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The Many French Verbs that Mean To Return

Introduction | Transitive verbs | Intransitive verbs | Test

The English verb "to return" has seven (7!) French equivalents: retourner, revenir, rentrer, rendre, rembourser, rapporter, and renvoyer. Of course, this leads to confusion on the part of French students, which I am about to clear up forever.

There are many French equivalents because the English verb is very general and can mean different things - to return to a place, to return an item to the store, etc. The French verbs are much more precise, so in order to use the correct one, you need to figure out exactly what you want to say.

The first thing to do is decide whether the verb is transitive (requires a direct object [either stated or implied] to complete its meaning) or intransitive (cannot have a direct object).

Here are the seven French equivalents of "return." Click transitive or intransitive for detailed explanations and examples of those verbs.

Intransitive Transitive
retourner to go back rendre to give something back
revenir to come back rembourser to return money
rentrer to come or go home rapporter to return s.t. to a store
renvoyer,
retourner
to send s.t. back

  

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