Friday’s French – amener, emmener, apporter

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Viens ! Je t’emmène à la Tour Eiffel. Apporte des sandwichs, nous pouvons faire un pique-nique sur place. J’amènerai ma cousine avec moi.

Come on! I’ll take you to the Eiffel Tower. Bring some sandwiches – we can have a picnic there. I’ll bring my cousin with me.

Ce bus vous emmènera jusqu'à la Tour Eiffel
Ce bus vous emmènera jusqu’à la Tour Eiffel

Now before we go any further, I’d just like to mention that the differences between these three verbs in French can be very subtle. Also, in English “bring” and “take” are not always used correctly e.g. “bring me the ball” but not “take me the ball”. “He took me to the cinema” and not “he brought me to the cinema”.

Emmener is fairly simple and corresponds to “take” used correctly in English:

Le bus vous emmènera jusqu’à la Tour Eiffel = The bus will take you to the Eiffel Tower

Je vous emmène dîner au restaurant = I shall take you out to eat

Il a emmené un livre dans sa chambre = He took a book to his room.

Amener and apporter are a diffcrent kettle of fish.

Apporter is used in the following cases:

N’oubliez pas d’apporter vos CD = Don’t forget to bring your CDs.

Un jeune homme a apporté ces fleurs = A young man brought these flowers.

Je vous apporte des bonnes nouvelles = I have some good news for you (literally I’m bringing you some good news).

Il doit nous apporter des preuves = He has to bring us proof.

Cette réforme apportera des changements = This reform will bring changes.

What do you notice about all the above sentences (taken straight out of my Larousse French dictionary, I might add)? They all refer to things such as CDs, flowers, proof, changes and sandwiches, and not people.

If people are involved, then amener must be used and not apporter.

Amenez votre ami à la maison = Bring your friend home

Dites-moi ce qui vous amène = Tell me what brought you.

Ce bus vous amène à la gare = This bus takes you to the station.

I can hear you jumping up and down! What about the other bus, the one that takes you to the Eiffel Tower? Ce bus vous emmènera jusqu’à la Tour Eiffel. All I can say is that if there is a difference, it’s so subtle that you won’t ever have to worry about it!

Most of the other uses of amener correspond to the idea of provoking a result.

Cette crise économique risque d’amener des problèmes sociaux = This economic crisis could cause social problems.

Amener l’eau à ébullition = Bring water to the boil.

Il a amené la conversation sur le problème de chomage = He steered the conversation towards the problem of unemployment.

Vous nous avez amené le beau temps = You brought us the good weather.

You might wonder with this last one why you wouldn’t say Vous nous avez apporté le beau temps. It’s because you can’t literally bring good weather the way you can with sandwiches, but cause the good weather to happen.

I wrote this post at the request of a reader so will be interested to know whether it has helped!

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20 thoughts on “Friday’s French – amener, emmener, apporter”

  1. “”Vous nous avez apporté le beau temps” est une expression populaire souvent dite par les français, c’est du language courant.
    ” j’amenerais ma cousine avec moi ” se dit en Bretagne comme directement traduit du breton, mais ce n’est pas du bon français, on doit dire : j’emmenerais ma cousine avec moi ou je viendrais avec ma cousine.

    1. Merci, je ne savais pas qu’on disait également “vous nous avez apporté le beau temps”.

      Par contre, le premier exemple de “amener” dans le dictionnaire Larousse est “Amenez votre ami à la maison”, sans préciser que c’est du langage courant, avec la définition suivante: Faire venir quelqu’un avec soi !

  2. Thank you for doing this. I am going to send this to the members of my class and will give you their feedback (they’re adults0.
    You took a hard grammatical point to differentiate and did a great job in my opinion!

  3. The différence between “amener” et “emmener” is quite simple :

    Amener : To Bring in (bring your friend in, it’s a long time I haven’t seen her)
    Emmener : To Take away (take that dog away, it needs walking)

    Now the pronounciations are so close I understand it is very undiscernable for non native French speakers.

    1. Hello and thank you for your comment. I think English-speakers actually have more problems distinguishing between apporter and amener than amener/emmener although people who don’t use “bring” and “take” correctly probably find it difficult. Although it’s not quite that cut and dried, as can be seen in the examples given in the Larousse French dictionary for amener and emmener that I quoted: ce bus vous emmènera à la Tour Eiffel and ce bus vous amène à la gare.

      In English we would only say “bring your friend in” as opposed to leaving her outside in the street. (Fais entrer ton amie, ne reste pas dehors) rather than “bring your friend in, I haven’t seen her for a long time”. Perhaps just “bring your friend” or “bring your friend along” if you use amener in French. The same for “take that dog away” which would mean I don’t want to see that dog any more (emmnène ce chien et ne le ramène plus). We’d be more likely to say “Take the dog out. It needs walking”. That’s the problem with prepositions in English – they usually change the meaning of the verb.

      1. You are exactly right or exactly why everyone has a problem. Another student just emailed me saying that apporter vs. amener is still an enigma for him. It is very tricky ! They have little problem with emmener and amener.

        1. Maybe your student could try a couple of sentences involving “take” and see if they are correct.

  4. So far the feedback has been positive. They all are similar to this one I got from one of the women in the class:

    Merci Jacqueline!

    C’est une très bonne explication et je comprends beaucoup mieux!

    A demain,

  5. Hmmm… there are two issues here :


    If I remember correctly, amener refers to persons or pets (a’men’er is constructed from “la main”) and apporter to objects (objects have no hands, they’re being carried).

    Many native French speakers simply ignore their own language and couldn’t tell the difference mais malgré tout, dans la langue parlée courante, personne ne dira : je t’apporte à la gare mais bien je t’emmène à la gare (unless you’re dealing with a very, very retarded peasant).

    Ou : N’oublie pas d’apporter le vin et non : N’oublie pas d’amener le vin (mais là la faute est souvent faite, c’est vrai).

    See here.

    Mais si vous en êtes à ce niveau de précision c’est que votre français est déjà most excellent indeed!

    1. Hi Flocon and thank you for this additional information. “Apporter” does indeed refer to people and pets and is definitely the easiest to grasp. It’s the sometimes subtle difference between amener/emmener that creates the most difficulty for Anglosaxons.

      Most of my Friday’s French posts are based on errors that I hear around me (including those made by the French themselves!). After 39 years living in France and 35 as a translator, French has, indeed, become almost my native language.

  6. An old post but excellent one. Along with I think I have a grasp on it now.

    As for the bus and amener/emmener I would argue

    * Ce bus vous emmènera jusqu’à la Tour Eiffel.

    Tour guide talking. The bus is right there. It’s taking you with it from the (conceptual) start of it’s journey.

    * Ce bus vous amène à la gare.

    This bus (we’ll call it number 9) will get you to the station if you take it. It runs a normal route and will pick you up, bring you to the station, and then carry on.

    That’s how I’m going to try to remember it all anyway. Thanks for a great post.

    1. Hi, your two sentences are correct but the first one is more commun than the second. I think you could maybe choose another example for amener. Il a amené son ami avec lui à la Tour Eiffel.

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