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Emprunter – to borrow in French

Emprunter – to borrow in French

Today’s word of the day is: Emprunter, which means “to borrow” and “to take” (in the context of a way or path). There is a very specific caveat associated with the grammar of this verb. I’ll explain below.


to borrow

Emprunter – to borrow in French

Podcast of today’s lesson

Word origin

According to, The modern French verb emprunter comes from the Vulgar Latin verb impromutuare.


Emprunter is regular ER verb. This means that its endings are the same as all other regular ER verbs when conjugated in the present tense.

J’emprunte I borrow
Tu empruntes You borrow (singular, informal)
Il, elle emprunte He, she borrows
Nous empruntons We borrow
Vous empruntez You borrow (plural, formal)
Ils, elles empruntent They borrow

Example sentences

In French, the grammatical structure for empruter is: Emprunter quelque chose à quelqu’un, or “to borrow something to somebody (or something in the case of this example sentence). This is in stark contrast to “to borrow something from somebody” in English.

Le jeune couple emprunte de l’argent à la banque pour acheter la maison.

The young couple borrows money from the bank to buy the house.

The verb prêter means “to lend”. The French and English grammar are the same for this verb: Prêter quelque chose à quelqu’un (to lend something to somebody).

La banque prête de l’argent au jeune couple.

The bank lends money to the young couple.

The same grammar applies to this example sentence. In French, the student borrows the book to the library (à la bibliothèque) and not from (de) the library.

L’étudiant emprunte un bon roman à la bibliothèque.

The student borrows a good novel from the library.

As mentioned at the beginning of the lesson, emprunter can also means “to take” in the context of taking a path or way (either chemin or sentier).

Nous allons emprunter ce sentier pour arriver au sommet de la montagne.

We’re going to take this path to get to the summit of the mountain.

Related vocabulary

The follwowing vocabulary is related to emprunter:

  • emprunt loan
  • emprunt immobilier mortgage
  • emprunteur, emprunteuse borrower
  • emprunté (adj) awkward, ill at ease


Et voilà ! Now you have a better understanding of how to use emprunter in French. Now check our our lesson covering demander (to ask, to ask for).

Example of how to use emprunter in French.
Elle emprunte la voiture à ses parents. She borrows the car from her parents.

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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