Sunday, July 8, 2007

13. The Bring/Take Confusion

Hey, Y'all... Once again, I hope you're all doing well and enjoying those delicious veggies and fruits that are coming in from the garden right about now. There's nothing like our Southern corn, tomatoes, butter beans, field peas, strawberries, watermelons, blueberries, peaches, boiled peanuts, etc. Ah, joy!

Now, after that reminder that we live in a blessed locale, we'll tackle today's lesson. This one has been inspired by a former colleague of mine, another English teacher, who suggested that we address one of her pet grammar peeves heard all the time: The misuse of BRING and TAKE.

These two verbs shouldn't be much of a problem for any of you if you'll just keep a few thoughts in mind:

First, let's begin with the definition of each word. BRING simply means "motion TOWARD someone or some place." If you can associate COME with BRING, use BRING--COME to the picnic and BRING some fried chicken.

TAKE means "motion AWAY FROM someone or some place." If you can associate GO with TAKE, use TAKE -- GO home and TAKE your loud-mouthed friends with you.

In other words, just ask yourself which way something is moving. Is it COMING or GOING? If it's COMING, someone's BRINGING it. If it's GOING, someone's TAKING it.

Now sometimes you can get into a foggy area where you're not sure which one of these two verbs should be used. The best way to determine which word is correct depends on your perspective--on which end of the journey you're talking about, the ORIGIN or the DESTINATION. For example, say you have been invited to a friend's home for dinner. "What should I BRING?" you ask your friend. "BRING dessert," she answers. In this case, both you and your friend are speaking of the dessert at its point of DESTINATION. A few minutes later, you ask your brother, "What kind of dessert should I TAKE?" Your brother says, "TAKE peach cobbler." Now you are both speaking of the dessert from its point of ORIGIN.

For a little practice, try the following sentences to see how well you understand these rules:

1. In the afternoon Shirley Jo will (bring, take) the children to the exhibit.

2. (Bring, Take) your bathing suit with you to the beach.

3. Bill wanted his wife, Samantha, to (bring, take) him his bedroom shoes.

4. Samantha told him to (bring, take) them himself.

5. You should (bring, take) that extra watermelon to our next door neighbors.

Okay, I'm hoping this was pretty easy. Sentences number 1 and 5 should be TAKE. (Think "moving away from" or "going.")

Sentences 2,3,and 4 should be BRING. (Think "moving TOWARD" or "COMING TOWARD.")

So, how did you do? Pretty easy, I hope. The misuse of these two little verbs can be very annoying, so be careful and be sure you know which one is correct to use. Maybe if more of us use them correctly, we can influence others -- including some newscasters, speakers, and anyone else who (especially) speaks to us through the media.

See you next time and let me know about more of your pet grammar peeves. Meanwhile, enjoy the scrumptious bounty from our fields! Have a great week. GG


Anonymous said...

Using this explanation of take/bring, can one "take a bath"?

Grammar Guide said...

One can most certainly "take a bath", although the meaning differs from the "going" and "coming" ones used in this blog! There are lots of other uses of "take"--take care of, take place, take exception, take charge, take after, take for granted, etc. All are just fine to use.

Check Webster's for a long list of these and others.

Thanks for blogging! GG

Anonymous said...

Please speak to "lie" and "lay", "lying" and "laying."

Grammar Guide said...

Dear Grammar Blogger, thanks for writing and for the suggestion. "Lie" and "Lay" are coming up very soon. A good lesson on these two verbs is sorely needed, I agree!

Stay tuned. GG

Anonymous said...

You are wrong about the swim suit beach example. You are going to the beach so you take the swim suit with you.

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