Rentrer Revenir Retourner. 3 verbs with a similar translation in English and slight differences in French.
As usual in French, we have rules, meanings and exceptions, moreover these verbs have more than one meaning.
Rentrer and revenir are very common, but it seems that retourner is less used, let’s see how.
In this lesson, we are going to explain them with the meaning of: to go back
To go back home, to return home
Il est tard, je rentre chez moi: it is late, I go back home
À quelle heure tu rentres ? at what time will you come back home?
Je rentre à pied: I’m going back by foot
To come back
We use the verb revenir when one of the speaker is where the other person will come back.
For example, someone at your office can call you and ask: tu reviens quand? you were at the office, you left and the person want to know when you come back.
Peux-tu revenir plus tard ?: Could you come back later?
In this case, we won’t use the verb rentrer because it is not linked to a home. (with some exceptions)
To go back, to return
None of the speakers are at the place they are talking about.
For example, speaking about your holidays in France, you can say to a friend:
Nous retournerons en France l’année prochaine: we will go back to France next year
(None of you are in France at the moment)
On retournera manger dans ce restaurant, c’était trop bon: we will go back to this restaurant, it was too good.