Word Choice – Bring and Take/Come and Go

Paulo’s question: “Could you clarify the use of ‘come’ versus ‘go,’ as well as ‘bring’ versus ‘take?’ I find it strange that someone would write: ‘Yes, I am coming, and I’ll bring wine.’ ”

BizWritingTip response: Use “come” and “go” when you are referring to movement. Use “bring” and “take” when carrying something.

Now for the tricky part.

If you are moving from your current position, you are “going.” If you are carrying anything, you are “taking.”

Examples
I’m going to take my computer to the repair shop. (The emphasis is on you and your computer moving from the present location to the repair shop.)
Take out the trash. (The garbage should be moved away from the speaker.)

If you are moving toward the speaker or to a specific location, use “come.” If you are carrying anything, you are “bringing.”

Examples (correct)
I will come to your meeting and will bring my laptop. (Both the writer and the laptop are moving to a specific point.)
Bring in the mail. (The mail will be moving toward the speaker.)

Note: Sometimes both words will fit. It is up to you to choose where you want the emphasis: the point of departure or the point of arrival.

Examples (correct)
I am going to take cookies to the meeting. (The cookies will move from one place to another.)
Will you come to the meeting and bring cookies? (You and your cookies are being asked tomove to the meeting.)

In Paulo’s question, the answer will depend on whether Paulo is hosting the person. If he is doing so, the reply would be “Yes, I am coming, and I’ll bring wine.”  If a third party is having the party, then it would be “Yes, I’m going to the party, and I’ll take wine.”

What’s the address?

1 reply
  1. Ken Orton
    Ken Orton says:

    Hello Jane,
    I did hear the misuse of bring instead of take on the BBC recently so thanks for your efforts to get a grip.
    You did a splendid job of covering most of the ground but there is still one area that I would love to find some eloquent phraseology to explain to others.
    I would ask,Are you “coming” to Peter’s party?, in order to assert that I was going to it. Even though I am not the host. I would then naturally revert to “I am going to “take” a cake.
    I think I could find quite a number of cases where the subtlety of usage requires this sort of irregularity.
    But is it irregular……as an Englishman I am reasonably capable of using my own language well. Alas, we English are the least educated in it’s technical construction.
    Can you point me to or describe for me the rules or technical phrase that adjusts the speakers “announced perspective” by the use of such a word.
    It seems to me that it is that announced perspective that is so frequently destroyed by replacing the word “take” with the word “bring”.

    Reply

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