Knowing when to use bring and take can be confusing.
Can you tell if any of the following sentences use bring correctly?
- When you go to the meeting next Friday, please bring your department’s current budget report.
- Since Mary has just moved to town, I will bring her with me to the luncheon on Sunday.
- Please bring me a glass of water when you come back from the kitchen.
- I will bring three suitcases with me when I travel to Paris.
Only the third sentence is correct.
Merriam-Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines bring as “to convey, lead, carry, or cause to come along with one toward the place from which the action is being regarded.” The key part is the last clause: “from which the action is being regarded.” In order to use bring, the speaker/writer must already be at the destination to which the person or object is being conveyed.
Sentence 3, then, is correct because the water is being conveyed TO the location of the speaker. If, however, she were asking someone to carry her empty water glass back to the kitchen, she would say “Please take my glass to the kitchen” because she would be asking to have the glass removed FROM the place where she was currently located.
In sentence 1, the speaker/writer cannot possibly be at the meeting already, so he cannot use bring. The sentence should read “please take your department’s current budget report.” The same is true in sentence 2, which should read “I will take her with me to the luncheon on Sunday.”
In sentence 4, the speaker/writer is not in Paris, so she should say that she plans to take three suitcases with her to Paris. Once she arrives in Paris, however, she can call home and ask a friend who plans to join her to bring her something she forgot to pack.
A Trick to Help Remember
Think of it this way: bring it here; take it there.
But sometimes it’s just not that simple. If, for example, a friend called to ask you to bring a pie to her dinner party next Friday night, you would probably say, “Sure, I will be happy to bring a pie to your party.” Not many of us would say, “I’ll be happy to take a pie to your party.”
But once we hung up, we would likely say to someone in the room with us, “I am going to take a pie to my friend’s dinner party next Friday night.”
Perhaps bring makes sense in the sentence spoken to the host because what we are actually saying is that when we arrive at her house, we will have brought a pie with us. Put another way, what we are really saying is “I will be happy to bring a pie with me to your party, to have one in my hands when I arrive.” The future tense makes bring more acceptable.
- When I opened my luggage in the hotel room, I realized I had forgotten to bring my new suit for the interview.
- When the third-quarter reports are ready, ask Ted to bring them with him to the shareholders’ meeting in Atlanta tomorrow afternoon.
- I have baked four dozen brownies, which I will bring with me when I go to the family reunion.
- Please bring me a bouquet of flowers when you come back from the garden.
- “. . . ask Ted to take them with him . . . .”
- “. . . which I will take with me when I go . . . .”
Copyright 2001 Get It Write. Revised 2020.