Bring vs. Take

In the use of bring and take, often the choice depends on the speaker’s point of view, especially for ‘old-school’ grammar junkies, like me. Consider some examples:

He brings his child to daycare every day.

This emphasizes movement in the direction of the destination

He takes his child to daycare every day.

This emphasizes movement away from the starting point

If the speaker is the father, or someone in the home, or if we are referring to the movement from home to the daycare, we need to construct with take.

If the speaker is a worker at the daycare, they might ask, “At what time are you bringing little Johnny?” or “Please don’t forget to bring Johnny’s registration forms when you drop him off.”

Why? From the speaker’s point of view, movement is in their direction.

These relationships may help clarify the difference:

take away – go away – go from – leave – remove

bring to – go to – come to – arrive – put

The distinction has become blurred because sometimes the relevant point of focus is not the place of speaking. In such cases, the difference obviously depends on the context. Some would argue whether the following construction is acceptable since the speaker is neither at home nor at the library.

She always takes a variety of books home from the library.

Here’s how I break this down:

She TAKES the books FROM the library … that’s true

She BRINGS the books TO her house … that’s true

The key is … the books are with her FROM the starting point of the library and are carried TO her home.

You take FROM and bring TO.

If her mother were at home, speaking about her daughter’s library habit, she should say:

She always brings home a variety of books from the library.

From the mother’s perspective, the movement is in her direction.

Other examples:

I am taking him to work tomorrow since his car is in the shop – He is with you as you move together FROM your starting point TO a destination

The settlers brought disease with them to the New World – From the New World inhabitants’ perspective, they were affected by those who arrived with disease.

I’ll bring pizza and beer!! – You’re telling this to the receiver, and you’re BRINGING  something TO the destination.

Please leave comments or questions!

~ Kathe

©2016 Kathe Messina