Bring vs. Take

Do you bring food to a party, or do you take food to a party? The terms bring and take are often confused, and for good reason. Both words describe the movement of something from one location to another.

Bring describes the movement of something toward a specified location. According to this convention, you can bring food to a party, but not take food to a party. If Maria is having a potluck, her guests might ask her: Is there anything we can bring? or Can I bring a friend? Maria might tell her guests: Bring something to drink, and of course you can bring a friend. In this scenario, you are moving something (food or a friend) toward Maria’s house.

Take, on the other hand, generally describes the movement of something away from a location. Maria might say: I have to take the garbage out tonight. Or she might ask her guests: Do you want to take any leftovers home? In these example, the focus is on the fact that Maria or her guests are removing something (the leftovers or the garbage) from her house.

As with numerous usage conventions, formal English diverges from informal English. For many native speakers, bring and take are often interchangeable in colloquial speech and writing. Is the bring vs. take distinction discussed above something you notice or care about?

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