Mixing up or using verbs incorrectly is common issue for language learners and it is all part of your learning journey. Your learning journey becomes even harder when you have similar sounding verbs (and can become awkward quite quickly if you used the wrong one).

 

As a French teacher I have often been on the receiving end of confusion when students have mixed up verbs, but it’s really easy to do. After all a slight pronunciation changes your brand new bike (I bought my bike today) into a wreck (I broke my bike today). You can see where the confusion lies…


Three Main Problems when Confusing French Verbs

There can be many different ways in each language that a non-speaker can mix up verbs or use them incorrectly. For French specifically, there tends to be three main problems

False Friends or False Cognates
French verbs that resemble English verbs but actually mean something else.

Example – ‘rester’ looks like it is related to resting, however it actually means to stay

Fussy Verbs
Verbs that have the same meaning in English, but they are used differently in French.

Example – ‘visiter’ is to visit and you can use it in the context of I visited, but if you visited family then you need a different verb

Lookalike Verbs
French verbs that look so similar but have a slight spelling or pronunciation difference.

Example – ‘monter’ is to go up and ‘montrer’ is to show


Confusing Lookalike French Verbs: Porter and Mener 

While there are many examples of lookalike French verbs, two I often get questions about are the words porter‘ (to carry, wear, take) and mener‘ (to lead or direct) along with their conjugates.

The addition of the prefix to these verbs adds a distinct difference in the definition and use of the verb however the difference in spelling and in the pronunciation is slight but distinct. Let’s take a look below.

Porter family : Apporter – Emporter – Rapporter – Remporter

Porter – to carry, take, wear

Apporter – to bring, take, bring [sth]

Emporter – to take [sth] away with you

Rapporter – to bring [sth] back, fetch, bring money in

Remporter – to win, take away [sth], bring back [sth] (back to point of origin)

Mener family : Amener – Emmener – Ramener – Remmener

Mener – to lead, direct

Amener – to bring [sb]

Emmener – to take [sb] with you

Ramener – to take [sb] back, to give [sb] a lift back 

Remmener – to take back, to drive back (back to point of origin)

These are only two common examples that I am asked often about by students in my French classes. There are, of course many more for you to learn, but it doesn’t mean you need to do it alone.


Spotlight on Confusing French Lookalike Verbs:

I’ve created the video below to help you distinguish some of the more common tricky lookalike verbs and also teach you how to use them correctly.

Don’t worry I’ve included sample sentences with lots of verb tense variations to help you jump in. 

Make sure you grab a notebook and pen before starting the video as you’ll definitely want to take notes.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel for more tips and lessons to improve your French.


Porter and Mener flash cards:

Save these graphics to help you with practicing Porter and Mener

  
    

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