Prendre – “le verbe magique”

In French verb prendre (to take) is so versatile that it deserves separate blog post by itself 🙂 Well in a way it is very close to its English counterpart, sounds very differently but, as you will see if you read on, very similar in usage/meaning. So prendre in French can have more than 30 different meanings, that’s why it sometimes called “la verbe magique“.

As in french conjugation is by fare more complex/varied and depends on number and gender the firs thing to know about any verb is its conjugation. So her it is:

infinitive: prendre

Indicatif Présent Actif

je prends     nous prenons

tu preneds   vous prenez

il prend        ils prennent

Key thing to remember is double “n” in ils prennent, which is here for pronunciation/sound purposes (it just sounds batter with double “n”, though for non native speaker difference is subtle).

Participle Passe: pris, prise, prises

Once you know conjugation for prendre you also know how to congugate 3 other verbs which are sharing the same root: apprendre (to learn), comprendre (to understand), reprendre (review, reopen, reconsider, resume).

Now how/when you can use this verb.

To talk about transport you use (the same as take in English): Je prendre metro/le bus/la voiture/un avion/le train.

To make an appointment: Prendre rendez-vous avec le médicin (or somebody else)

To take a photo: prendre des photos

Take classes: prendre cours de français

To suggest something, like “Would you like a dessert?”: Vouz prenez un dessert?

To attack somebody: s’en prendre à quelqu’un

Get down to something: s’y prendre: Ce travail – je vais m’y prendre. This job – I’m going to get down to it.

To be conscious/aware about something: prendre conscience de quelque chose

To freeze/catch a cold: prendre froid

To be afraid of/to get scared: prendre peur

To take over the ball (in a football game): prendre possession de ballon

To take a seat (e.g. in transport): prendre place. You may also use this to politely offer somebody to take a seat in transport, prendre place in such situation is much better than something like “Asseois-toi, madame!”

To sunbathe, to lie in the sun, to tan: prendre un bain de soleil, Or to describe result of this activity: predendre de belles couleurs. J’ai pris des belles couleurs.

In shop, when you buying something: Je prends cette veste.

To care about somebody: prendre soin de. Je prends soin de toi. “Le soin” is a noun which means “care”.

Take your time: prendre son temps (almost exact match with English).

 To put on the weight: prendre du poids. “Le poids” means “weight/load/burden”. Je prends du poids.

To take/accept something good/bad: prendre quelque chose bien/mal. Je l’ai mal pris.

To take offence/umbrage (at): prendre la mouche (leteral translation “to take the fly” 🙂 ).

To take care / to be careful: prendre garde

To grow old, age; advance in age / years: prendre de la bouteille/barbe

To fall flat on one’s face (familiar; figurative), to come a cropper: se prendre une gamelle

gamelle [gamɛl] – means dixie/dixy (which according to the Lingvo dictionary military slang for large copper/cauldron for cooking, though I wasn’t able to find this in M-W) or colloquial word for fall.

To bother (harass, nag, plague, worry) the life out of smb.; bluff smb.: prendre la tête

To be high/stoned: prendre son pied

This post is largely based on the below’s YouTube video (all the explanations in Russian). This entire channel worth including in French learning resources as it allows you both learn something and have some fun, but like I said these videos explain everything in Russian.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *