The Many French Verbs that Mean To Return
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 to return 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 or intransitive. For those of us who failed English grammar ;-) a transitive verb is one that requires a direct object (either stated or implied) to complete its meaning, while an intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object. (See my grammar glossary if you're still confused.)
The table below includes a simple list of the seven French equivalents of to return. Click on transitive or intransitive for detailed explanations and examples of those verbs.
|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|
|to send s.t. back|
Test on to return
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