Italian is a very rich language. Sometimes, there are many words to describe just one thing. Some other times, just one word might have many different meanings. In Italian, certain verbs have many meanings, like the verb “to get” in English. Portare is one of these verbs. In today’s lesson, we’re going to focus on two of its meanings: to take and to bring. You will know when it means one or the other depending on the context. The easy aspect of this verb is that you don’t really need to decide between two verbs (like in English). Instead, you know you can use portare in both situations.
One verb for two actions
Portare means “to take” as in “to take something somewhere or to take someone somewhere”. It also means “to bring something somewhere or someone somewhere”. Basically, it implies movement from one place to another place while carrying something or someone. Have a look at the following examples:
- Mi puoi portare l’asciugamano?
Can you bring me the towel?
- Cosa porti questa sera a cena?
What are you bringing for dinner tonight?
- Puoi portare questo libro ad Anna?
Can you take this book to Anna?
- Mattia ha portato il cane in spiaggia.
Mattia took his dog to the beach.
As you can see in the examples, the translation of the verb portare depends on the context.
Portare vs. prendere
As we explained earlier in the course, there’s another verb that could be translated as “to take”: prendere. However, to avoid confusion you can try to translate prendere as “to get”, as in “to catch” or “to grab”. Here are some examples with prendere:
- Luigi ha preso il tuo libro.
Luigi got your book.
- Posso prendere questo bicchiere?
Can I get this glass?
- Chi ti viene a prendere all’aeroporto?
Who is coming to get you at the airport?
- Michele prende l’autobus per andare a lavoro.
Michele gets the bus to go to work.
As you might have noticed, the past participle of prendere is preso, as in Lei ha preso il tuo cellulare.