bring or take?

The verbs bring and take are used in a variety of ways, as the following examples show:

“Take it back!”

“I’ll bring this right back.”

“I’ll bring it up at the next meeting.”

“Take it up with the manager.”

“I forgot to take my meds.”

“I forgot to bring my swimsuit.”

“Would you please bring me my sweater?”

“I plan to take a vacation soon.”

Summer weather brings mosquitoes.

“I’ll take a chance and ask her out.”

“Can I bring a friend?”

“Take this package down the hall to Mr. Burke.”

“Did you bring the gift?”

“I’m going to take out a loan so I can expand my business.”

“Take a tip from Will: don’t borrow or lend money!”

The victim chose not to bring charges against her assailant.

“I’ll take your word for it.”

We take stock, take advantage, and take action. We bring a lawsuit, bring up the rear, and bring news.

You wouldn’t say:

Take the water to a boil. (Bring the water to a boil.)

or

“Bring Myrtle, for example; she’s never the center of attention, but she doesn’t complain.” (“Take Myrtle, for example . . .”)

(Not in the U.S., anyway!)

Both verbs can describe an act of coming or going to (or causing something or someone to come or go to) a place. The choice depends upon the perspective of the speaker or the focus of the action.

“Take this note to your teacher [when you go to school tomorrow].”

“Let’s take a bottle of wine to the picnic [when we go there].”

“Will you be bringing your own computer [when you come] to the class?”

In general, bring suggests that the person or thing comes to the place where the speaker is located (or goes along with the speaker or subject); take suggests that the person or thing goes somewhere else, away from where the speaker (or subject) is located. (Take something there; bring something here.) However, regional differences in usage apply, and both of the following sentences are correct:

“I think I will bring a fruit salad [with me] to the potluck.”

“I plan to take a fruit salad [when I go] to the potluck.”

Similar considerations arise with come and go. Note that we speak of going to a location, but a person (or thing) comes with us when we go somewhere.

“Can I come with you when you go to see Susan?” [you are going and I want to come along]

“Can I go with you to the concert?” [we’ll both go, together]

“I’ll be going to the prom with Sally.” [I’m taking Sally]

“Sam is coming with me to the party.” [I’m bringing Sam]

Let’s look again at the earlier example about a note for the teacher.

Take this note to your teacher [when you go to school tomorrow].”

“I’ll bring this note to your teacher [the note will come with me] when I take you to school tomorrow.”

More examples of bring and take:

Bring our boys home from the front!

“Don’t forget to take the dog for a walk.”

“I’ll bring the photos with me when I come to see you next week.”

“Please take the trash out to the dumpster.”

“Bring it here, boy!”

“Take the fight outside, please!”

“Bring me a sandwich from the deli.”

“I have to take my mother to the airport.”

“You can bring me the check when you have a moment.”

“Please take away these empty glasses.”

“Take an umbrella [when you go out]; the forecast calls for rain.”

“I think I’ll bring an umbrella [with me when I go out].”

“Carlos will bring [with him] signed copies of his new book.”

“Be sure and take the flyers with you [when you go]!”

The distinction can be subtle.

“Take this with you for good luck.” (You are going somewhere, and you will carry an object with you.)

“Bring this with you when you come to the store.” (I’d like you to carry the object with you; I’ll be at the store when you arrive.)

“Sheila always brings her son to rehearsals.” (I’m at the rehearsals too.)

“Sheila takes her son everywhere.” (I don’t accompany them everywhere they go.)

“I’m bringing your grandchildren for a visit.” (We’re all coming to where you are.)

“I’m taking the boys to a game.” (We’re going without you.)

“You should bring Lydia some flowers; she’d like that.” (If you are not going in person, you would send flowers.)

“Take some flowers for Lydia.” (I have assembled a bouquet from my garden and am giving it to you to carry away.)

“I’ll take some flowers for Lydia,” Lyle says as he cuts the stems. (He will carry the flowers away from my house.)

“I’ll bring these to the hospital,” Lyle says. (He will carry the flowers with him.)

“Jake always takes work home.” (Jake and I share an office.)

“Jake always brings work home.” (Jake is my husband.)

“Stephanie will take her daughter to Mexico next year.” (We’re all in the U.S.)

“Stephanie will bring her daughter to Mexico next year.” (I’m in Mexico.)

If the location of the speaker (or the direction of movement) is unknown or irrelevant, use whichever verb fits your purposeā€”or rewrite the sentence:

“Stephanie and her daughter will travel to Mexico next year.”

 

 

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