Rapporter, redonner, rembourser…

rendre, rentrer, renvoyer, retourner, revenir

Rembourser, rendre, retourner
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Why does French have so many different translations for "to return"? Because this English verb has so many different meanings! The trick to knowing which one to use is to learn another way to say "return" in each situation.

 Note: Most of these verbs have other meanings, but this lesson deals only with the ones relating to "return."

Rapporter

Transitive verb (needs a direct object)
Meaning:
to return something to its proper place, to its owner
Synonyms: to put/take/bring/give something back (also: rendre)

Rapporte l’oreiller dans ta chambre.   Return the pillow to your room.
Il ne m’a jamais rapporté le livre que je lui avais prêté.   He never returned the book I loaned him.

Redonner

Transitive verb
Meaning:
to return something to whoever had it before
Synonym: to give something back (also: rendre)

J’ai redonné la balle aux enfants.   I returned the ball to the kids.
Redonner ces outils à ton papa.   Return these tools to your dad.

Rembourser

Transitive verb
Meaning:
to return money
Synonyms: to reimburse, repay

Quand vas-tu me rembourser ?   When are you going to return the money to me?
Il m’a remboursé hier.   He returned the money to me yesterday.

Rendre

Transitive verb
Meaning:
to return something to its proper place, to its owner
Synonyms: to put/take/give something back (also: rapporter, redonner)

J’ai rendu les livres à la bibliothèque.   I returned the books to the library.
Quand vas-tu me rendre mon vélo ?   When are you going to return my bike?

Rentrer

Intransitive verb (does not have a direct object)
Meaning: to return home, to return to school
Synonyms: to come/go home, to go back to school

Il va rentrer tard ce soir.   He’ll be returning (home) late tonight.
Il est rentré à Nice il y a une semaine.   He returned (home) to Nice a week ago.
On rentre le 1er septembre.   We go back to school on September 1st.

Renvoyer

Transitive verb
Meaning:
to return something by mail to where it came from
Synonym:
to send back

Cette chemise est trop serrée, je vais la renvoyer.   This shirt is too tight, I’m going to return it (by mail).
As-tu déjà renvoyé le colis ?   Have you already sent the package back?

Retourner

Intransitive verb
Meaning:
to return to where one came from
Synonym:
to go back

Je retourne au resto parce que j’y ai oublié mon sac.   I’m returning to the restaurant because I forgot my bag there.
Il est né en France mais il n’y est jamais retourné.   He was born in France but has never returned there.

Revenir

Intransitive verb
Meaning:
to return to where the speaker is right now
Synonym:
to come back

Je vais revenir dans une heure.   I’ll return in an hour.
Il est parti hier et devrait revenir demain.   He left yesterday and should return tomorrow.

 Related expressions

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To return - French verbs
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