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I was under the impression that both amener and emmener mean "to take" someone somewhere. I'm not sure how they differ in usage.

I started wondering after hearing the song L'Homme Que J'Adore, where the singer says:

L'homme de mes rêves m'amène sur une île

Or maybe it's really:

L'homme de mes rêves m'emmène sur une île

And how do emporter and apporter fit into this?

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Merci de vouloir corriger le plusieurs erreurs que probablement j'ai faites :) –  Paolo Dec 19 '11 at 12:03
    

6 Answers 6

up vote 11 down vote accepted

« amener quelqu'un ou quelque chose quelque part » is « to take someone or something to somewhere » The accent is on the destination which is rarely omitted.

« emmener quelqu'un » is « to take someone with oneself ». The accent is on with oneself, the destination and the origin is often not mentioned and not important. The dictionnary of the Academy says « Contrairement à Emporter, qui le plus souvent s'emploie avec des noms d'êtres inanimés, Emmener s'emploie uniquement avec des noms d'êtres animés. » (in bold, and hinting that the usage in fact doesn't agree with them :-))

So for « L'homme de mes rêves m'amène sur une île. » and « L'homme de mes rêves m'emmène sur une île. » in the first sentence what is important is that she reaches the island, in the second what is important is that she goes there with the man of her dream. I can't listen to the song from here, but the second one is more probable.

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“Amener” is when you're talking about someone, or a pet, just like “emmener”. However, “amener” contains the idea of a destination, where as “emmener” contains the idea of a starting point.

So in your particular song, it would be appropriate to say “amène”, since you're going to the island.

Even though it's not a site dedicated to this kind of topic, you'll find more information on that page.

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The two verbs are very similar and can often be used in the same context:

"Emmener" means to take out of the current place and to another place.

"Amener" means to take from one place to another, or to lead to another place.

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As the others said, it's a matter of reference according to whether you're considering the target or the destination:

Amène-moi ta sœur, je dois lui parler. (Bring your sister here, I need to talk to her: from there -> to here)

Emmène ta sœur au jardin zoologique. (Take your sister to the zoo: from here -> to there)

If that's easier for you to grasp, the same distinction exists with émigrer (emmigrate) and immigrer (immigrate): both deal the concept of changing country (migrer), but émigrer is leaving one country, and immigrer is entering the other. While you do both at the same time, your country of origin will say you emmigrate while your country of destination will say you immigrate.

Again, since it's a matter of reference, the difference is subtle and can show which part you want to emphasize:

L'homme de mes rêves m'amène sur une île

Puts the focus on the destination, so the island is what's important, while:

L'homme de mes rêves m'emmène sur une île

Puts the focus on sweeping you away from where you are now, and the fact that it's to an island doesn't really matter. Considering the island is explicitely specified, and the source is not, I would tend to think the first makes more sense; but that's not to say the second is incorrect.

As for the original song, quite honestly I can't make it out for sure whether Alisson Adams Tucker says one or the other. Sure, the subtitle lyrics say emmène but that's just what whoever put the subtitles thought.

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Tu pourrais trouver cet article intéressant. Je vais rapporter les informations plus important ici:

The English verbs to bring and to take have four French equivalents: amener, emmener, apporter, and emporter. This causes all kinds of confusion, but it really is very simple once you understand the differences.

To bring

The French verbs apporter and amener are used to indicate that you are bringing someone/something with you to the place where you are.

Apporter can only be used with things you can carry, whereas amener has to be used with people, animals, and vehicles.

  • J'ai amené mon frère à la fête. = I brought my brother to the party.
  • J'ai apporté mon livre à la fête. = I brought my book to the party.

To take

Emporter and emmener are used to mean that you are taking someone/something to a different place than you are right now.

Emporter is for things you can carry, while emmener is for people, animals, or vehicles.

  • J'ai emmené mon frère à la fête. = I took my brother to the party.
  • J'ai emporté mon livre à la fête. = I took my book to the party.

Summary
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Cette reponse est genial, merci :) –  Paolo Dec 28 '11 at 14:44
    
@Paolo De rien! :) –  Alenanno Dec 28 '11 at 14:58

Il y a quatre verbes : amener, apporter, emmener, emporter.

La différence entre Emporter et Apporter est la analogue à la différence, en anglais, entre Go to et Come from : il s’agit du point de vue. Si je suis chez moi et que je prends mon livre pour aller à l’université, je dis : « J’emporte le livre » ou « J’emmène le livre ». Si je suis à l'université, je dis : « J’ai apporté le livre » ou « J’ai amené le livre ». S’il y a une notion de restitution on peut dire « J’ai rapporté le livre que je vous ai emprunté ».

La différence entre Emporter et Emmener d'une part, et Apporter et amener d'autre part, est qu'on ne peut pas utiliser emporter ni apporter si ces verbes sont suivis par un objet animé, comme une personne.

Cet exemple est donc correct mis à part l'orthographe et la typographie :

– Tu as mon livre avec toi ?
– Non, je te l’amène demain.

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