The Old Editor Brings It

This post by John E. McIntyre originally appeared on The Baltimore Sun on 10/5/15.

The question: I believe you are an expert at this. Please explain the usage of take and bring! I am driven crazy by what, seems to me, is the mixed and incorrect usage of these words.

The Old Editor answers: What causes distress is a schoolroom oversimplification, the curse of English grammar.

Your teachers likely told you that bring is for movement toward the speaker, take for movement away from the speaker. This is apt in many cases.

But that distinction collapses when, as Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage says, when the point of view is irrelevant. This will require some explication.

Grammar Girl gives an example: “The simple rules fall apart when you consider an event in the future where nobody has arrived yet. Do you bring rum cake to the school bazaar or do you take rum cake to the school bazaar? It simply depends on where you want to place the emphasis of the sentence—which perspective you want to adopt.”

 

Read the full post on The Baltimore Sun.

 

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