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Grammar Granny        < Previous        Next >


Bring Vs. Take


Location, location, location. That's a maxim in real estate, but also in grammar. In the tricky case of when to use "bring" and when to use "take," you have to consider the location of the speaker, and the location of the addressee.


Deciding which of the two terms to use hinges on the direction of the movement. To make it easier, note that both "bring" and "take" are synonyms of "bear," as in "to carry."


So here's the trick:


If you can substitute "bear to," use "take." The movement is away from you.


If you can substitute "bear from," use bring. The movement is back toward you.


"I will take my pie to the fair," you might say. You were bearing your pie to the fair, not from it. You wouldn't say, "I took my pie home." You would say, "I brought my pie home." You were bearing it from the fair, not to it.


Here's another way to look at it. This one depends on the location of the speaker: if you can substitute "caused it to go," use "take." Think of it in the sense of "take away." But if you could substitute "caused it to come," use bring. The sense is "bring from."


So you would say, "I'm going to bring a date." You are implying that you and date will change locations, from where you are now, to where you are going on the date. The emphasis is on the person. But if you were listening to a friend talk about an upcoming date, you would say, "Where are you going to take her?" The emphasis is on the location more than the person here. You wouldn't say, "Where are you going to bring her?" You'd use "take" because the final destination is the focus, and you are taking her there, not bringing her from there.


"Bring" and "take" are causative transitive forms of two other verbs, "come" and "go." If you can substitute "cause it to go," use "take." If you can substitute "cause it to come," use bring.


You can learn more about this and other grammar issues in "A Grammar Book for You and I . . . Oops, Me," on



By Susan Darst Williams Grammar Granny 017 2006


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