Bring and Take

Credit Matuschka CC-BY-SA

Grammar of the Day – Bring and Take

I imagine this conversation in front of a restaurant where two people have just had lunch and they’re getting on with the rest of the workday:

Person One, handing Person Two a file folder: “Bring this to the office. I’m going to meet a client.”

Person Two: “Do you mean you want me to bring it to you at the office when I come in tomorrow?”

Person One: “No. I want you to bring it to the office now.”

Person Two is confused because Person One is goint to meet a client and won’t be at the office to bring it to. Then their face lights up as they get it. “Oh! You mean TAKE it to the office.”

Person One, frowning: “That’s what I said.”

Some English language users use the word “bring” where the rest of us would use the word “take.” Most of us speak with the sense that things are brought here and taken there. “Please bring the coffee here, to this table.” “Please take the coffee there, to that table.” But some people use “bring” in both cases. (Is anyone else beginning to think that “bring” sounds funny?) To us, that usage just sounds wrong, while to them it’s perfectly natural. I’ll bet they can’t even see why it would be a problem. The truth is, I can see their reasoning. When they are taking the coffee to that table, they are going there and bringing the coffee with them. When looked at in that light, from the point of view of the destination rather than from where the statement is made, the concept of bringing becomes synonymous with taking. Therefore, the people making that mistake have no compelling reason to change, nor to even see that anything is wrong.

This grammatical error is probably permanent.

Brief definition in the Oxford dictionary.
Longer definition in the Cambridge dictionary.
Quite long discussion by the Grammar Girl at Quick and Dirty Tips.

rjb

About arjaybe

Jim has fought forest fires and controlled traffic in the air and on the sea. Now he writes stories.

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