Word War: Bring vs Take

When you move something from one place to another, do you bring or take it with you? We use both bring and take to describe carrying or transporting an object or person from a place to somewhere else. To a lot of Filipinos, the subtle difference between bring and take is confusing. How come? In most, if a not all, Filipino languages, both bring and take have the same equivalent (dala). The lack of linguistic distinction between these English words have made a lot of Filipinos use these words interchangeably. So what is the difference then? Mostly where the movement is headed.

We use bring when the speaker is at the destination and the movement of the object is toward the speaker. For example, I am in the living room watching TV and you are in the kitchen, I can ask you to “Please bring me a glass of orange juice.” We can also use bring if the speaker and the listener will both be at the destination in the future, for example: “I will bring the books you want to borrow to the coffee shop later.” This is because the speaker is focusing on the listener as the destination of the object and where the movement is headed.

Take is used when the movement of the object is away from the speaker, as in “Please take this glass to the kitchen.” We also use it to state that the destination is in a different place where the speaker is and the listener will not be present at the destination, for example: “I will take these books to my room.”

Simply put, bring describes movement toward a specified location , while take describes movement away from a place. This is why we can bring food to a party, but we cannot take food to a party. We can, however, take food home from the party. As with numerous usage conventions, formal English differs from informal. For many native speakers, bring and take are often interchangeable in colloquial speech and writing. At the same time, adhering to these standard usage guidelines will help us deliver our message clearer to our listeners and readers.


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