"Pourquoi m'emmènes-tu voir des œuvres laides ?"

Translation:Why are you bringing me to see ugly works of art?

June 30, 2020

This discussion is locked.


Here we go again "Why are you taking me to see some ugly work of art?". I guess we have exhausted this argument of when to use "bring" vs "take". I gat to get through the exercise so, I'll quietly fall in line .... :-(


Yes, it's a pain.


Bring and Take are both accepted here (already in the museum, or planning the trip?) according to your physical location when speaking. The Amener/Emmener difference is, well, different. Use Amener when you are leading someone somewhere (or taking them - like your children to school), and then leaving them there. Use Emmener when you are taking someone with you somewhere (like your children to the zoo) and staying with them. So, the reason this seems complicated (but isn't really) is that you have the Bring/Take difference in English and the Lead to/Accompany difference in French.


The amener/ammener difference has nothing to with staying or not, it's about direction of travel. There's a case for each of them here but the matching English verb should be used in the translation.


Can you quote a source? There's a lot of confusion about this, but as far as I can see it is not a direct bring/take translation. It does indeed seem to have the additional element of simply dropping off or going with. Here's a fairly well-explained description of several 'take' verbs - some of which are misused in France as well. https://www.frenchtoday.com/blog/french-verb-conjugation/amener-emmener-apporter-emporter-remporter-bring-take-french/ I am very willing to be shown I am wrong - but shown, not told.


That site's explanation is over-simplified and in places incorrect and it seems to have mislead many people. Even Sitesurf has explained that it is too basic.

This is her illustration of the difference:

For example, for the same story about father and daughter going together to daughter's school:

1) Mother says: "Mon mari emmène notre fille à l'école tous les jours".

Father does not stay at school with daughter. Focus on the departure point: Home for all 3 protagonists.

2) Teacher says: "Le père amène sa fille à l'école tous les jours".

Focus on the arrival point: where the teacher is. Departure point is secondary and it could actually be different if daughter and father don't live in the same house and father picks daughter up on the way.

Here are translations from three different bilingual dictionaries that state clearly that amener is bring and emmener is take (in this context anyway) without further qualification. You can see these examples:

Staying with:

amener quelqu'un chez soi
emmener quelqu'un dîner

dropping off:

amener son fils à l’école
emmener quelqu'un à la gare

The difference is concisely expressed by this usage note:

Amener v.t. / emmener v.t.
Amener = faire venir avec soi. Amener qqn chez un ami.
Emmener = faire partir, faire quitter un lieu avec soi. Emmener qqn à l'étranger.

Having said that, many French speakers use them interchangeably. Likewise many English speakers confuse bring and take and there are often contexts when either might be appropriate.


Exactly right. I had some conversations with French colleagues about this and they explained that amener and emmener are different with respect to whether or not you stay with the person. So the subtlety is orthogonal to the difference between bring and take in English where direction of travel matters. So either one can be translated as either bring or take, but there's a nuance difference that we don't have in English.


As a French speaker and linguist I can confirm that the difference is not in whether the travellers remain together after the journey or even the purpose of the journey. There are many situations where either is appropriate. Many native speakers and many learners get them confused, the latter often due to a misunderstanding of how they are used.

If you don't believe that, may be you will believe l’Académie française. Here are their definitions for the relevant senses:

amener Mener une personne en un lieu ou jusqu’à quelqu’un (Lead a person to a place or to someone)

emmener Conduire, transporter d’un lieu vers un autre. (Drive, transport from one place to another)

and there are examples, showing how they can be used in different cases, sometimes the driver is clearly staying, sometimes clearly not, sometimes it is unclear:

Il m’a amené ici. Si vous venez nous voir, amenez votre frère. Amener les enfants à la campagne. Amener un malade chez le médecin. Amenez-le-moi. Il le fit amener devant lui. Je vous l’amènerai par le collet. Il a emmené ses enfants à l’école. Tu emmèneras ta fille chez tes parents. Nous vous emmènerons en voiture jusqu’à la gare. Ils m’ont emmené dîner. On l’emmena voir une belle exposition. Emmenez-moi loin d’ici. J’emmènerai mon chien avec moi.

So you can see, the difference is not as you insist and tenalice is correct. Each can be used in various ways but generally amener (to + lead) is more about where you are going and emmener (from + lead) is more about moving from one point to another. It is usually the context that tells you more and indicates the appropriate English translation.


Good, as a native French speaker, I'm very interested in what you think the distinction is. Because it's not at all clear from either the definitions you quoted, nor the examples. They seem completely interchangeable.

amener Mener une personne en un lieu ou jusqu’à quelqu’un (Lead a person to a place or to someone)

emmener Conduire, transporter d’un lieu vers un autre. (Drive, transport from one place to another)

As given they imply to me that the two words are basically synonyms. The verbs they use are very close (mener vs conduire/transporter). So maybe you are saying that if you aren't using a vehicle, then it's amener, but if you are driving something, it's emmener? That's not supported by the examples. (Several amener examples seem to imply the use of a vehicle.) Or maybe you are highlighting the difference that amener can be used when taking someone to a person rather than a place? But again, there are examples that contradict that. (e.g. "Tu emmèneras ta fille chez tes parents.")

So I'm genuinely interested. What do you think the distinction is between them? It's clearly not the same as the away/to distinction we have in English for take/bring. And you say it's not what any of the various sites I found think it is. So what is your opinion on the matter? Are they just straight up synonyms? Please enlighten me, rather than just say I'm wrong.


So your first category for emmener seems consistent with the "staying with" idea.

With these examples, maybe but neither implies the other. There are counterexamples, those were just the first ones that came to mind.

As for amener, the case of "amener ici" seems broadly consistent with the focus on the destination, not the trip, regardless of whether the person stays or not.

That's a reasonable statement.

The first two of the examples you mention fall into the "could be either" category. emmener is better if a third party is taking the subjects from the speaker's location but otherwise you could use either amener or emmener and in translating either "bring" or "take" would work. I think actually the speaker could be at the destination in the first two.

As for the third, I think you really need amener and "bring" since the speaker is dragging something to "you".


To clear up some points:
It's not really relevant whether there is a vehicle involved. Most often there will be but you could equally be walking.
Both verbs can be used for both going to a place or to a person (by implication the place the person is) .

There are many cases where either verb could be used and while they are not interchangeable, they are synonyms in the sense of having similar meanings.

This is not exhaustive but I would usually use emmener for
an activity (take someone to dinner, or see some art)
for taking someone/thing away, either explicitly (ils ont emmené ses enfants) or implicitly (emmener qqn à l’hôpital - implicitly away from where they are)
* When the speaker will be taken (ie away from where he/she is) (Il va m’emmener à la gare).

and amener for when the destination is the speaker's location or is identified as 'ici'.


This is just a quick reply and I'll add more later. The indenting has gone wonky for me so hopefully the thread is still readable.

This is the OED's definition of bring:

Take or go with (someone or something) to a place.

By that definition, "Bring the children to the countryside.",
"Bring a sick person to the doctor.",
"I will bring it to you by the collar." and
"I am bringing my son to school."
are all correct. They are all cases where either bring or take is valid, except maybe the third, where I would always use bring. Incidentally, you would normally say, "J'emmène mon fils à l'école" if you are a parent on a school run.


Thanks. That's very helpful.

So your first category for emmener seems consistent with the "staying with" idea. If you take someone to dinner or to see some art, you are staying with them during the process. Not just leaving them there.

And the other case you mentioned for emmener is more focused on the journey part of the trip, rather than the final destination. Taking someone away, but not focusing too much on the destination. This is also consistent with some of sites I saw that broadened the "stay with" sense to include the journey itself, i.e. the part of the trip where you are together. So this seems also fairly consistent with what I read.

As for amener, the case of "amener ici" seems broadly consistent with the focus on the destination, not the trip, regardless of whether the person stays or not. Some of the sites I linked included that as part of the distinction.

I'm curious what you think about these examples of amener (from your post above), which don't quite seem to match up with this though:

Amener les enfants à la campagne.

Amener un malade chez le médecin.

Je vous l’amènerai par le collet.

These are all cases, where the destination is definitely not where the speaker is. So bring would be wrong for the translation to English. They should definitely be take. Are they just cases where you could use either, and it doesn't really matter?

For what it's worth, I had thought these were amener, not emmener because either the focus was on the destination, rather than the trip, or it was implying that the taker would be departing soon after the trip was complete. Do either of these reasons make sense to you, or do you have a different thought about them?

Thanks again!


Um, that's not the OED. That's Lexico.

Here is the OED definition: https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/23385

To cause to come along with oneself; to fetch. It includes ‘lead’ or ‘conduct’ (French amener) as well as ‘carry’ (French apporter); it implies motion towards the place where the speaker or auditor is, or is supposed to be, being in sense the causative of come; motion in the opposite direction is expressed by take (French emmener, emporter).

It is much more emphatic about the direction than definitions of amener and emmener typically are. Although ironically, it uses those French words as part of its definition. So they agree with you, even though I'm not convinced by what you've written so far that the French words are nearly this explicit in this regard.


Um, that's not the OED. That's Lexico.

Lexico is (a portal to) the OED! The definitions given by the major dictionaries are all consistent with this too.

We have tried to explain patiently but I don't know what it will take to convince you if you are so set on a mistaken belief.


Thanks. At least in the majority of reasonable cases, bring would be wrong in English for the first two, and it's arguable in the third.

"Take the children to the countryside." Not bring, unless weirdly you are already in the countryside, and you are talking about retrieving the children from some other place.

"Take a sick person to the doctor." Maybe unless you are an ambulance company stationed at a doctor's office and will go retrieve a sick person from another location.

"I will take it to you by the collar." Because it's in the future, you're not with the recipient yet, so bring isn't really appropriate. But this is a case where a lot of people nowadays would say bring, using the perspective that in the future, I will be with you, and I will have brought it to you at that point. So this one I think could be either, but take is traditionally more correct.

I think these kinds of examples are the source of the confusion. These are the first kinds of things we learn for amener. E.g. "J'amène mon fils à l'école" = "I am taking my son to school." Bring would basically never be right here.

That's why I've been insisting that the simple bring/take translation rule isn't sufficient. The difference isn't quite the same for those English words as between amener and emmener in French. I'm happy to accept that bring is always translated as amener, but take doesn't seem to be always emmener, and that's what I've been trying to figure out. What exactly the distinction is for those cases.

I think where I'm at now is:

amener = bring to the speaker's location, or take to a specific location, not focusing on the trip, but mostly on the simple fact of getting someone to arrive at that location.

emmener = take from a specific location, maybe with a destination in mind, but not necessarily, or take to a specific location, but where the focus is on either the journey or still being together after arrival.

Does this seem close? Are there cases you can think of where one or the other would be preferred, but it doesn't fall into those categories?

Thanks so much for bearing with me. I think I'm not alone in finding these words to be rather tricky, so I appreciate your help. Hopefully it will be helpful for other English speakers who may read this conversation in the future.


OK. Thanks for the discussion. I won't bother you any more about it.

You lost a lot of credibility with me by trying to claim that Lexico and the OED are the same dictionary, just because they are both published by Oxford University Press. If that's your level of understanding of English, then I guess it's not worth discussing any further the differences between the English words bring and take or how they compare to amener and emmener.

I do appreciate your perspectives about the French words amener and emmener though, and I accept your superior expertise on those words (being a native speaker). Your insights about them above were very helpful for me in trying to tease out the nuance differences between them, so thank you for that.

Je vous remercie beaucoup. Bonne journée.


Apparently you are unaware that the OED switched to the Lexico portal (it's not a dictionary itself) a while ago. This was shown to me recently by a former worker for the OED, who explained that the entries are taken therefrom.

Between that blunder on your part, your lack of comprehension of the distinction between "bring" and "take" in English and your reluctance to accept the evidence of reliable resources over less reliable ones, you should be more concerned about your own credibility. It would be a good idea to become clear about the English verbs before criticising others' use of the French ones and certainly before casting aspersions over people's grasp of English.


"works of art" has a strongly positive connotation in english, so it doesn't really fit well with the "ugly" descriptor. Maybe "pieces of art," "artwork(s)," or even just "art" would translate better.


------ the nazis had a "degenerate art " show . it was certainly supposed to have been ugly "art " . . .


The nazis referred to modern art as "degenerate" as part of their broader censorship program, and the "degenerate art" show was intended to turn public opinion against modern art.

This manages to be both ahistorical and offensive. Congrats!

Thanks to the Duolingo moderators for finally adding a report button right in the forums.


In informal English, bring and take can be used interchangeably, but grammatically speaking, bring is used with movement toward something and take is used for movement away from something. Most people don't make the distinction, I assume?


They're definitely cases where one or the other would feel wrong. But yes in most cases they're pretty interchangeable. For instance you would take out the garbage not bring out the garbage, because presumably you're in the house asking someone to take it away from the house. But you bring in the mail not take in the mail, because this time you're in the house and the mail starts out not in the house so you're bringing it to where you are.


I haven't revisited this discussion for a while and I see that some aspects of it seem determinedly orthogonal (ha!) to the available evidence - wrong-angled, as it were (nothing against Saxons). Seriously, bring to (where you are) and take to (where you're going) have been tested by modernity. You can now say "I'm going to bring them to you" to your sister-in-law, because your voice is there, with her, in her earpiece, in her house. This has long been the case with projection into the future, even without the telephone or modern apps: "I'll bring the cake". You are going to take the cake but, because you are projecting yourself by letter/messenger into the place of your future host/ess, it works. A kind of verbal time travel. Amener/Emmener is that, and more. There is much discussion out there, and much supports the "within/inclusive", staying with 'em' (embrace), inclusive, versus the 'a' 'to'. I haven't seen on this board evidence against this, although I would be the first to admit that the two verbs are used "against the rules", interchangeably sometimes. But, if you bring to this discussion that there is a straight bring/take equivalency, take another look.


I don't understand that kind of english. Bringing?


Going along with someone, going somewhere together, etc.


Seems harsh to mark wrong works, rather than works of art


"Œuvres" refers to works of art only? Not any other kind of work? Like construction works or carpentry for example..


Isn't it missing a preposition here? m'emmènes-tu à voir...


Can "Pourquoi tu m'emmenes voir...." (can't seem to use the accented E from this keyboard) be as correct as "m'emmenes-tu"?


Agreed. It should be "taking me"


Why do yiu bring me


That is exactly what i wrote..and it was marked wrong!


Where is the word 'ugly' in this sentence?


laides. at the end,


Are you sure in the order of words in this sentence?


Surely it's better english to have 'to see' at the end. - why are you bringing me ugly works of art to see.


That sounds like the art is being brought to you. The sentence is about you being brought to see the art.


I don't know why I'm downvoted. "Bringing me something to see" means that the something is being brought to you. The exercise sentence is about bringing you to the something. "Bringing me something to see" is NOT the same as "bringing me to see something".


Thats not very respectful

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