Bring and take are very common English verbs. They are often misused by learners of English. This is due to the fact that they have extremely similar meanings. Both verbs can be used when someone carries something (or someone) somewhere, but bring and take are used in different contexts. So, the question is:
What is the difference between bring and take?
The difference between bring and take is a question of direction, of movement.
Bring means carry something toward the speaker or a specified place. The object that is carried moves toward the speaker or a specified place.
Take means carry something away from the speaker or a specified place. The object that is carried moves away from the speaker or a starting point.
Context always helps. Look at the following situation:
Imagine you are in your sitting room. Your friend is in the kitchen and you would like your friend to carry a glass of water to you. You will say:
• Can you bring me a glass of water please? → here, we use bring because the glass will move toward you, the speaker
Now your friend has brought you a glass of water, you have drunk the water and you would like your friend to carry the glass back to the kitchen. You will say:
• Can you take it back to the kitchen please? → here, we use take because the glass will move away from you, the speaker
The same works with a specified place or point. For example:
• The wind brought rain to this area. → here, we use bring because the rain moves toward the specified area.
• He stole a bike and took it home. → here, we use take because the bike moves away from a starting point, i.e. the place it was stolen.
Useful tip: To remember that take is used when something is carried away, just remember the phrase used in fast food restaurant where you can buy a meal that you will not eat there but “take away”
Another trick some of my learners prefer to use is to note the repetition of the letter a in the phrase “take away”.
Careful! bring and take are both irregular verbs – like so many very common English verbs. Here are the forms to remember:
Bring, brought, brought. For example, you can say: I bring, I brought, I have brought
Take, took, taken. For example you can say: I take, I took, I have taken
There you are! You now know the difference between bring and take. Congratulations! 🙂