What is the difference between ‘bring’ and ‘take’? These words are very similar in meaning, but they have two very different usages. While even native English speakers may get confused about which word to use, understanding the words correctly helps to determine which word is appropriate to use in a particular situation.
‘Bring’ is a verb used to show the action of coming toward the person speaking with an object. An item coming to you or another person is brought. For example: Please bring me a glass of water. As shown in this example, ‘bring’ is commonly used to ask people to carry or convey things to the place you are at. It also means to cause something or someone to come, exist, happen or start in a figurative sense. For example: She brings the fun with her. ‘Bring’ always indicates a coming of something toward someone.
‘Take’ is likewise a verb, and has the meaning to carry, move or lead something to a place. However it has with it the meaning of removal when used with an object or person. Things or other people are ‘taken with’ a person. For example: Please take this glass of water. In this sense, ‘away’ is often added to ‘take’, as in ‘take away’ to clarify the meaning of removal. ‘Take’ can also be used to imply that someone wants to give you something. For example: Please take this gift. ‘Take’ has many additional meanings and a wide range of usage. It can mean such things as to acquire, to receive, to eat, to adopt, to accept, to select, to experience, to participate in, to deal with, or to consider.
In some circumstances it is possible to use ‘bring’ and ‘take’ interchangeably, because both words will fit into the context correctly. For example: Be sure to bring a sweater. Be sure to take a sweater. Both sentences can be correct because, in the first example, you are being directed to carry, or bring along, a sweater to wherever you are going. In the second example, it means to take a sweater from your place of departure to wherever you are going. In either circumstance, the sweater is both brought to a place and taken from a place at the same time. So it is possible that you could take something from one place, but you would also bring it to another place in the same action. Many items can fall into this category, which is why ‘bring’ and ‘take’ are often confused. Along with this, many idioms or phrasal verbs use ‘bring’ or ‘take’ in ways that don’t conform to the standard usage and meaning. For example: ‘Take a bath’, ‘bring about’, ‘bring up’ or ‘take down’. These are all considered exceptions to the ‘bring’ and ‘take’ usage rules.
Usually, it can easily be decided from the context whether to use ‘bring’ or ‘take’. An easy way to remember which word to use is to keep in mind this saying: You bring things here, but take them there. The key lies in the location of the item from the point of reference to the action going on.