Selecting the Base Verbs
The verb “porter” means to carry, so it’s used with inanimate objects.
Je porte ma valise. I carry my suitcase.
J’emporte mon parapluie en voyage. I’m bringing my umbrella on my trip.
J’apporte une bouteille chez mon ami. I’m bringing a bottle to my friend’s house.
The verb “mener” means to lead, so it’s used with animate beings: people and animals.
Napoléon mène ses armées. Napoleon leads his armies.
J’emmène mon bébé au restaurant. I’m bringing my infant to the restaurant.
J’amène ma fille à l’école. I’m taking my daughter to school.
The Prefixes A-, Em-, Ra- and Rem-
Adding these prefixes to the “base verbs” porter and mener, we get:
From porter: apporter, emporter, rapporter and remporter
From mener: amener, emmener, ramener and remmener
Prefix + porter is used with things and inanimate objects.
Ex: emporter: to bring things
Prefix + mener is used with people and animals.
Ex: amener – to bring a person
Choosing the Right Prefix
Once you have selected your correct “base verb”, the question to ask is whether you are accompanying, staying with the person, or keeping the thing with you,
or if you are just dropping it/him/her, leaving it/him/her at destination.
Then, selecting the correct prefix will translate the notion of bring or take in French.
A-: you are going to leave the thing/person there. This is the idea behind “amener” and “apporter”.
Em-: you are staying with the thing/person. This is the idea behind “emmener” and “emporter”.
The prefixes ra- and rem- in French can mean any of:
– the repetition of an action
– the return to a point of departure
– the return of something to its normal place
This is an excerpt from a French Today post.