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Bring vs Take

Updated on January 14, 2021Grammar
Bring vs. Take

“Bring” and “take” are two verbs that often appear on lists of commonly confused words. They both mean that something, or someone, is changing its location with the help of another thing or person. So we can bring our lunch to work or take our children to school every morning. They also appear in phrasal verbs, so you can say that you brought something up at a meeting, or that you took apart your radio clock for a science project.

Bring or take, come or go.

“Bring” and “take” seem to have the same kind of relationship as two other verbs that imply movement, “come” and “go,” and that’s where we get to what makes them different. You wouldn’t ask someone who is far away from you to go to where you are, just like you wouldn’t ask the same person to come somewhere where you are not. “Bring” and “take” owe a lot of their meaning to the verbs “come” and “go,” respectively. Let’s say you’re throwing a party, and one of your friends is in charge of bringing pizzas. From your perspective, she is coming to the party, and the pizzas are also coming with her—she is bringing the pizzas. From your friend’s perspective, she is going to the party, and the pizzas are also going with her—she is taking them. When something moves toward a place, we say it’s coming. When someone causes something to move toward a place, we say it’s being brought: I asked Jane to bring pizzas to the party. On the other hand, when something moves away from a place, we say it’s going. When someone causes something to move away from a place, we say it’s being taken. Jane took the pizzas from her house and put them in her car. So far, so simple. However…

Perspective is a funny thing.

Let’s say you’re the friend who has been invited to the party, and you’re in charge of the pizzas. A day before the actual party, the person who’s organizing it calls you to make sure that you’re coming and that you’re bringing pizza with you. You can hear yourself saying: Don’t worry, I’m coming to the party, and I’ll bring the pizzas. See you tomorrow. Even though you should be saying that you’re going to the party and taking the pizzas with you, using the verbs “come” and “bring” make more sense. Why? Because you shifted to the point of view of the person to whom you’re speaking. From the host’s perspective, you’re supposed to come to the party and bring pizza, and it makes sense to keep the conversation in the same perspective to avoid confusion. Let’s say that, after the conversion with the person who’s organizing the party, you call another friend, who is not going to the party, and ask to borrow his car. You would say:

Can I borrow your car tomorrow? I’m going to a party and I need to take a bunch of pizzas there.

As you can see, in this case, it’s better to use the “go” and “take” combination because you’re speaking with a person who doesn’t have any knowledge of the party. If you used the “come” and “bring” combination, your friend would be left wondering whether he’d been planning a party and forgotten about it.

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