Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Give a little, take a little

Now that Labor Day is behind us, it's time for your favorite grammar person to take a stab at yet another grammar issue, one that many teens and adults "take" for granted. That's right: I'm going to write about the difference between "bring" and "take."

The word "take" is used in so many idioms that sometimes it gets used in place of the word bring. Maybe you have what it takes. We all know it takes one to know one, it takes two to tango, and sometimes you'll witness something that takes the cake. My students, I hope, will take notes. You get the picture.

Idioms involving "bring" add to the confusion. "Bring home the bacon" and "bring it on" are both examples of idiomatic usage of "bring" that violate the rules concerning these words.

What is the difference between the two words? It's pretty simple. You choose the word based on location and destination. "Take" is used when the object is going away from your location. "Bring" is used when the object is coming toward your location. For example, I will take my famous pork sandwich filling to the party. (I'm at home, and I'm going somewhere, in this case to a party, and the pork is going away from me.) If I am feeling under the weather, I might ask my husband to bring me a cup of tea. (In this case, the tea is coming toward me.) In school, I could ask a student to take a book to another teacher (the book is going from my room to different room, again away from me), or I could ask them to bring me their homework (the homework is in their notebooks, and it is moving toward me).

It might take practice to use "bring" and "take" correctly, but you will sound smarter if you make the effort!