Puis-je te prendre en photo ?

English Translation

Can I take your picture?

What is the function of “en” in this sentence? I would have thought it is “Puis-je te prendre une photo?” Is this wrong?

“Puis-je te prendre une photo?” would be understood as “can I take one of your pictures” (as in, the physical object, you have a bunch of pictures with you and they’re asking to take/borrow one of them).

“Prendre (quelque chose ou quelqu’un) en photo” means to actually take a picture with a camera, I never actually questioned this construction but I suppose you can deconstruct it as something like “take you by means of photography” or some such.

You can however say “puis-je prendre une photo” (without object) if you’re asking for authorization to use your camera, for instance in a museum. You could also maybe say “puis-je prendre une photo de toi” if you really want to get rid of the “en” but I think it’s a bit more awkward/informal/lower register.

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