Emmener, amener, emporter, apporter ?
Emmener, amener, emporter, apporter are four French verbs which trigger nightmares for some of my students…but also for some French people! In this article, I hope to clarify things enough for you to feel confident about using them properly 🙂
So, keep reading then test yourself with my free practice exercises!
“Porter” vs “-mener”
“Porter” means “to carry” (and, when referring to clothes, “to wear”).
Example: un porte-clé (= a keyring, literally “a key-carrier/holder”)
It’s used with things, because things can’t walk or move themselves and need to be carried.
“-mener” expresses the idea of a movement that someone or an animal does to move themselves (left leg, right leg, left left, right leg, etc.) – They don’t need to be carried.
For example, “se promener” means “to go for a walk”.
Remembering this will help you make the fundamental difference between emmener, amener, emporter and apporter!
Emmener, amener, emporter, apporter
So, the main point is to not mix “-porter” (used with things which you need to carry) and “-mener” (used for people/animals/things that can move themselves).
Now, the difference between “a-“ and “em-“ can be more subtle – sometimes both forms are acceptable depending on the point of view, but as a general rule the former has a meaning of “bringing along” and the latter of “taking away”:
(use with things)
(use with people, animals + with a car : cant be lifted but can move itself!)
Bringing along to the place youre coming to.
Tip: think about the preposition "à", which expresses the sense of direction youre going TO.
Si vous venez à ma fête samedi, apportez un dessert!
(=If you come to my party, bring a dessert!)
Viens diner et amène ta petite amie avec toi, jaimerais la rencontrer!
(= Come to dinner and bring your girlfriend with you, Id like to meet her!)
Taking away the thing or person with you from the place where you are to another place
J'emporte toujours un livre avec moi.
( = I always take a book with me)
Sur place ou à emporter?
(= Have here or take away?)
Tu t'ennuies? Allez viens, je t'emmène au cinéma !
(= Are you bored? Come on, I'll take you to the movies!)
Note about French conjugation
Verbs in « -mener” (mener, amener, emmener, etc.) take an « è” in order to get a strong sound when they are not already followed by another strong/accentuated syllable. The “nous” and “vous” forms in the present tense for example have a strong ending (“-ons”, “-ez”), so no alteration in the spelling/pronunciation is needed.
Example: emmener →j’emmène, tu emmènes, il emmène, nous emmenons, vous emmenez, ils emmènent.
What about remmener, ramener, remporter, rapporter ?
You can add “r-“ in front of the verbs to give the following meanings:
- A repetition (to re-take, to re-bring along, etc)
La semaine dernière, j’ai amené ma voiture au garage parce qu’elle faisait un bruit bizarre et je dois la ramener aujourd’hui pour un autre problème !)
(= Last week I took my car to the mechanic because it was making a weird noise and I have to take it there again today for another problem!)
Je vois que tu as aimé mes macarons! Je t’en rapporterai demain.
(= I see you liked my macarons! I’ll bring some more/again tomorrow.)
- The return to the original place / return to the point of departure
Rapporte-moi mon stylo quand tu auras fini, s’il te plait.
(= Bring my pen back to me when you’re done, please.)
Elle était partie seule faire le tour du monde et…elle a ramené un petit ami!
(= she went to travel around the world by herself and she brought back a boyfriend !)
French culture : a song for you !
Listen to « J’t’emmène au vent » (Louise Attaque) and get carried by the rhythm 🙂
…and don’t forget to test yourself!Get Worksheet