Apporter-emporter-amener-emmener

The differences between APPORTER - EMPORTER - AMENER - EMMENER

These 4 French verbs have a similar pronunciation and meaning. However, they do express different nuances.

Let’s see these different nuances with this infographic.

How to use Apporter-Emporter-Amener-Emmener properly - 1

Simplified version:

How to use Apporter-Emporter-Amener-Emmener

MENER / PORTER

First of all, have in mind that MENER in French means: “to lead, conduct, to show the way” and PORTER means: “to carry”.

Therefore, you use AMENER and EMMENER for persons, animals and things that can move by themselves, and APPORTER and EMPORTER for things that need to be carried.

For example, for a car, as you cannot carry it, you have to use AMENER or EMMENER.

  • J’amène ma voiture chez le garagiste. = I take my car to the garage. 

AMENER

The focus is on the destination

= To bring someone with you to another place.

= To drive / take someone somewhere.

AMENER is used for persons, animals and things that can move by themselves.

  • J’amène mon fils à l’école. = I take/bring my son to school.
  • Mon fils amène sa petite amie ce soir pour nous la présenter. = My son is bringing his girlfriend tonight to introduce her to us.
  • Ce bus vous amènera jusqu’au centre-ville. = This bus will take you to the city centre.
  • J’amène ma voiture chez le garagiste. = I take my car to the garage. 

EMMENER

The focus is on the starting point.
= To make someone leave a place to go to another place and stay with that person.
= Taking someone with you to do something.
= Taking someone with you from one place to another.

EMMENER is used for persons, animals and things that can move by themselves.

  • J’emmène mon fils en vacances. = I take my son on holiday.
  • Elle emmène ses parents dîner au restaurant. = She takes her parents out for dinner.

APPORTER

It’s the same principle as AMENER, but this time for things that cannot move by themselves and need to be carried.

The focus is on the destination.
= To carry something to a place and leave it there.
= To carry something to a place to hand it over to someone.

APPORTER is used for things that need to be carried.

  • J’apporte des fleurs. = I bring flowers.
  • Céline apporte le dessert. = Céline brings the dessert.
  • N’oublie pas d’apporter du champagne ! = Don’t forget to bring champagne!
  • Le facteur a apporté ce colis pour toi. = The postman brought this package for you.

EMPORTER

The focus is on the starting point

= To take something from a starting point to go somewhere and keep it with you.

= To take something with you when you leave a place.

EMPORTER is used for things that need to be carried.

  • J’emporte un parapluie. = I take an umbrella with me.
  • Elle emporte toujours un livre et de la crème solaire quand elle va à la plage. = She always takes a book and sun cream with her when she goes to the beach.
  • Les cambrioleurs ont emporté tous mes bijoux. = The burglars took all my jewellery.
  • Il a acheté une pizza à emporter. = He bought a takeaway pizza.

I can understand that these 4 verbs can be really confusing for French learners! 

Actually, they are so confusing that even the French tend to make mistakes when using them!

They often use EMMENER and AMENER for things that you can carry.

You might therefore hear: “Tu as pensé à emmener des lunettes de soleil ?”.

This is not correct though. One should say: “Tu as pensé à emporter des lunettes de soleil ?”.

Just try to remember that the prefix A- puts the focus on destination when EM- puts the focus on departure point.

Use APPORTER and EMPORTER for everything you can carry and AMENER and EMMENER for everything else.

And if you mix them up it is not such a big deal since most French people won’t notice! 

Besides, the dictionary now accepts the verb AMENER instead of APPORTER or EMMENER instead of EMPORTER in colloquial language.

 

Conjugation

Let’s now see the conjugation of these 4 verbs in present tense. 

All of them are -ER verbs and therefore have a regular conjugation.

However, note that the verbs AMENER and EMMENER take an accent when the next syllable contains a silent E.

Do you now understand the difference between:

  • Je porte un parapluie. = I’m carrying an umbrella.
  • J’apporte un parapluie. = I’m bringing an umbrella.
  • J’emporte un parapluie. = I’m taking an umbrella with me.

Make a sentence in the comments with one of these 4 verbs 😉

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11 Comments

  1. Thank you so much! This was very helpful! Could you potentially turn the images into posters n which we can download?

    1. I’m glad I could help you to better understand this topic 🙂
      Even French people mix these verbs up! 😉

  2. A cup of French
    All your presentation of French vocabulary and concepts are too good.
    Easy to understand and make other understand:)

    1. Merci beaucoup !
      It’s always nice to get feed back for my work and to know that it is useful for learning French !

  3. In fact ‘bring’ and ‘take’ in English don’t rely on the destination, so much as where the person is to whom you are talking.

    For example:
    If I am visiting a friend, I can tell her “I’ll bring a cake”, but for that same visit, if I were telling my daughter, at home, where I was going, I would say, “I’ll take a cake”.

    1. Yes, it is difficult to translate these 4 verbs in English as the logic is not the same in the 2 languages.

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