Let’s say that you’ve just baked a delicious batch of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies (yum!). Just as you’re taking the cookies out of the oven, you get a call from your friend Cara. She tells you there’s a last-minute farewell party for your friend Mike this evening. The problem? The host hasn’t bought any food to serve as snacks. (Yikes!)
Being the quick thinker you are, you remember that you’ve got a batch of mouth-watering cookies that are fresh out of the oven. You need a way to restrain yourself from eating the entire batch anyway, so you decide to give some of the cookies away as a snack for the party.
But what do you say when you ask Cara about the idea? Do you say, “Should I bring the cookies to the party”? Or do you say, “Should I take the cookies to the party?”
Which is it? Is it bring or is it take? Take a guess because we’re about to set the record straight about when to use bring vs. take.
The difference between bring vs. take
Bring vs. take are words that many people use interchangeably. But they are, in fact, separate words. It’s true that both describe transporting something to another location. However, you need to use one vs. the other depending on the situation you’re describing.
Let’s talk about when to use each one.
When should you use bring? When you’re talking about moving something closer to someone who’s acting as the point of reference in a situation (often the speaker). For example, you use bring in sentences like these:
- “Should I bring the sweater for you to try on?”
- “Please bring your payment to the class.”
- “Don’t forget to bring a notebook to the training session.”
Bring is the right word for these sentences because they describe moving an object (i.e., the sweater, payment, or notebook) closer to someone (i.e., you or the speaker).
In sum, when you’re thinking about the difference between bring vs. take, remember that bring is the word to use when you’re talking about moving something toward someone.
So now you know what bring means. But what about take? You use take when you’re talking about moving something away from someone who’s acting as the point of reference in a situation (usually the speaker). For example, you use take in sentences like these:
- “Should we take the cookies to Fran’s party?”
- “Let’s take this suitcase to Paris with us.”
- “This is my best offer. Take it or leave it.”
Take is the right word for these sentences because they describe moving an object (i.e., the cookies, suitcase, or offer) away from someone (i.e., the speaker).
In sum, when you’re thinking about the difference between bring vs. take, remember that take is the word to use when you’re talking about moving something away from someone.
Bring vs. take in idioms
One of the reasons why people get bring vs. take mixed up is because we sometimes use these words in idioms (common phrases) that don’t describe movement toward or away from someone. Here are some examples from Grammar Girl:
- “bring someone down a peg”
- “bring about”
- “take a bath”
- “take down”
How to remember the difference between bring vs. take
It can be hard to keep bring vs. take straight, but we’ve got a trick that can help: Note that take is part of the term “take away,” as in the thing you want people to remember after they leave your presentation or navigate away from your blog post. That’s how you can remember that take is the word you use when you want to describe something moving away from someone.
Bring vs. take are simple English words, but it isn’t always easy to remember how to use them correctly. Use bring when you want to say that something is moving toward someone. And use take when you want to say that something is moving away from someone.