Portare vs prendere: Italian grammar lesson 63

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Portare vs prendere: How to use them

The verb portare is usually translated in English using the verb “to bring”, while prendere normally translates “to get”.

For example:

Mi puoi portare un libro?

Can you bring me a book?

Alessandra ha detto che porterà una bottiglia di vino.

Alessandra said she will bring a bottle of wine.

Vieni a prendere le tue cose.

Come and get your things.

Puoi prendere quella scatola?

Can you get that box?

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Portare vs prendere: to take/get someone to/from a location

However, some uses of prendere and portare are less straightforward. This happens especially when a location is specified, and someone is accompanied or driven to or from that location.

The main cause of confusion is that in English we can use other kinds of verbs to express this type of action – verbs of manner of motion, such as “to drive” or “to walk”.

They do not indicate any specific direction, but only the way the action is carried out, such as by car or on foot.

For example, an English speaker can say “I will drive you to the airport”.

But in Italian, we cannot use the verb guidare (=to drive) to translate this sentence.

So how do we know when we should use the verb prendere and when we should use the verb portare?

Read below to find out!

  1. Portare:

If the location indicates the end destination of the motion action (the place people are moving to/toward), we use the verb portare.

In English, we can translate these sentences with the verb “to take”.

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For example:

Domani mattina ti porto alla stazione.

I’m taking you to the station tomorrow morning.

Maria mi ha chiesto se la posso portare a scuola.

Maria asked me if I can take her to school.

Ti posso portare a casa.

I can take you home.

  1. Prendere:

If the location indicates the origin of the motion action (the place people are moving from), we use the verb prendere.

In English, we can translate these sentences with the verb “to get”.

For example:

Chi ti viene a prendere all’aeroporto?

Who is coming to get you at the airport?

A che ora devi andare a prendere tua figlia a scuola?

What time do you have to go get your daughter at school?

A che ora ti vengo a prendere a casa domani mattina?

What time should I come and get you (from your house) tomorrow?

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