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Confusing Words: Confusing Words: Bring and Take

Dennis Oliver
Confusing Words:
Bring and Take

The very common verbs bring and take are sometimes
troublesome for learners of English. One reason this happens
is because bring and take have almost identical meanings
but are used for different "directions" in English: bring
shows movement toward the speaker, but take shows
movement away from the speaker.

If needs something and wants B to get it and carry it
to him or her, A says, "Could you bring ___ to me?"
(or "Could you bring me ___ ?").

If A has something and A wants B to get it and carry
it to Csays, "Could you take ___ to C?" (B then
takes ___ from A and takes it to C.)

More examples:

Please take the baby from her bed and bring her to me.

If you want some tea, I'll be happy to bring a cup to you.

If you're finished with your tea, I'll be be happy to take
your cup to the kitchen.

I'll be happy to take the cup from you and take it
to the kitchen.

You father is in his office and his mail just came.
Could you please take it to him? He's expecting you
to bring it to him.



Bring shows movement toward the speaker:

bring ----> speaker

Take shows movement away from the speaker:

speaker ----> take



*Could you bring your father's
mail to him? He's upstairs.

Could you take your father's
mail to him? He's upstairs.



*I need my calculator. Could you
take it to me, please?

I need my calculator. Could you
bring it to me, please?



*Mr. Smith is right over there.
Could you bring this to him?

Mr. Smith is right over there.
Could you take this to him?


Special Note

In some dialects of American English, people do not
make a difference between bring and take. This seems
very strange to people for whom bring and take 
are different.

 A Little More Information on
Bring and Take 
by Dennis Oliver

In general, bring shows movement toward the speaker
and take shows movement away from the speaker.
These two common verbs can be more complicated,
however, because both bring and take can be used
with to and from.

If has a favorite picture at home and wants to put it 
on his or her office desk, A brings the picture from
home when he / she brings the picture to the office.
We can also say that A takes the picture from home
when she / he takes the picture to the office. (Bring is
used when the reference is the office; take is used when
the reference is home.)

If B (a child) sees that her/his baby sister has some
matches, B will probably take the matches from the
baby and then take the matches to his / her mother
or father. If B's mother or father wants the matches,
she / he will probably say, "Take those matches from
the baby and bring them to me!"

If it is lunchtime and C's (another child's) father is
working in his home office, C's mother might say,
"Please take this sandwich and tea to your father and
when he's finished, please bring the plate and cup
back to me."


More examples:

Father: "The newspaper is outside the door. I'd like
to read it. Can you get it?"

Father asked me to take the newspaper
from outside the door and bring it to him.

Father: "Here's an interesting article in the
newspaper. I think your mother would like to
read it. I want to see it again after your mother has
finished with it."

First, I took the newspaper to
my father. While he was looking at
it, he saw an article and asked if
I could take the article to my mother
and then bring it back to him when
she was finished with it.

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