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05/07/01: "Bring" and "Take"

Several of you have pointed out the common mistake of writers' using the verb "bring" when they should have used "take." Can you tell which of the following sentences use "bring" incorrectly?

1. When you go to the meeting next Friday, please bring your department's current budget report.

2. Since Mary has just moved to town, I will bring her with me to the luncheon on Sunday.

3. Please bring me a glass of water when you come back from the kitchen.

4. I will bring three suitcases with me when I travel to Paris.

Only the third sentence is correct.

Merriam-Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (10th edition) 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.

TEST YOURSELF:

1. When I opened my luggage in the hotel room, I realized I had forgotten to bring my new suit for the interview.

2. When the third-quarter reports are ready, ask Ted to bring them with him to the shareholders' meeting in Atlanta tomorrow afternoon.

3. I have baked four dozen brownies, which I will bring with me when I go to the family reunion.

4. Please bring me a bouquet of flowers when you come back from the garden.

ANSWERS TO LAST WEEK'S TIP ON "A" AND "AN":

1. a medical doctor

2. an M.D.

3. a State Department of Education initiative

4. an SDE initiative

5. an honor (silent "h")

6. an heir (silent "h")

7. a history professor

8. a historical monument

ANSWERS TO THIS WEEK'S TEST ON "BRING" and "TAKE":

1. correct

2. ". . . ask Ted to take them with him . . . ."

3. ". . . which I will take with me when I go . . . ."

4. correct

Copyright 2001 Get It Write


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