Carol Roberts Smith asks:
Why can’t we ‘take’ anything anywhere anymore? Why do we have to ‘bring’ it. It sounds weird to me to say bring or brought. ‘I brought lunch to work’ I can live with, but ‘I have to bring this back to the store’ makes no sense to me. I’m taking it back to the store one way or another. Help me understand please. I notice it on TV a lot now too. Thanks!
Both bring and take have numerous meanings.
One can, for example, take medicine, take the Fifth, take a liking to, take it on the chin, take a partner, take in a stray, take up for a friend, take out a date, and take an oath.
One can bring to bear, bring tears to the eyes, bring something up, and challenge someone to bring it on.
The OED entry for take lists 93 numbered definitions. The one for bring has 27 numbered definitions. The definition that concerns us here is Number One:
bring: 1. To cause to come along with oneself; to fetch. It includes ‘lead’ or ‘conduct’ (F. amener) as well as ‘carry’ (F. apporter); it implies motion towards the place where the speaker or auditor is, or is supposed to be, being in sense the causal of come; motion in the opposite direction is expressed by take (Fr. emmener, emporter).
When the words are used to express the conveying of something or someone to or from a given point, the choice between bring and take is clear:
If the person or thing is going away from where you are, use take. If the object or person is coming to where you are, use bring.
Some examples of the correct use of bring and take:
I’m taking this blender back to the store.
I’m taking my girlfriend to the movies.
Please bring your wife to the party.
Don’t forget to bring me that book next time you visit.
Jacquelyn Landis has also written a DWT post on “bring” and “take” for DWT.