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Why has the word "take" been so widely supplanted by "bring"? ... It seems nowadays no one takes anything away but "brings" it.

I was taught that one took something away and brought it back...

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I agree with Kelli C about how to use the terms bring and take. The question, I beleive relates to a larger issue, that of change in language itself. Words used in 1930, for example, aren't the same words we use now. Sometimes, words that are used most often by the general population become, over time, the correct words. For example, my last dictionary listed the proper pronunciation for forte (pronounced fort), as that word applies to strength in an area, has now been superceded by the musical deffinition and the preferred pronunciation for any use of the word forte is now fort-e, long e stressed. This was a disappointment for me. On the other hand I'm glad language is fluid and changing. I'd hate to have to speak Chaucer's Middle English, but I have to stop and think again about change.  I certainly don't want lite instead of light to be added to my dictionary as an actual word!) I believe your question is a good one, for which there is no certain answer, except as Kelli C. states --but that's just applies to now. It will be up to you and your generation to decide what you hear and read next!

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7 Answers

The difference between bring and take depends on the person who is speaking. Overall, it depends on that person's point of reference. "You bring it here; you take it there."

If the object is going outward, you would use take.

If the object is coming inward, you would use bring

The best example I have heard revolves around the saying: "take-out food". It is called take out food because it is leaving its original placement. You are "taking" the food out. You would not call this food "bringing-out food". 

If someone is at home waiting for you to bring the food then they would say that you are bringing the food home because now the object is coming at an inward direction. 

You are taking the food away from the restaurant because your destination is out-ward.

You are bringing the food home home because your destination is inward. 


Another way that you can clarify the difference is by relating the verbs both "take" and "bring" to the verbs both "go" and "come". In reference to the "take-out food" example, you take the food from the restaurant with you because you are going elsewhere. On the other hand, you bring the food when you are coming home. 

I hope this helps!

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Kelli:

Well said. Thank you. Now if everyone would only adhere to such a simple understanding of the difference! I drives me simply batty when supposedly educated people insist on "bringing" things away vice "taking" them.

Jay:

Thank you. I can understand your frustration with those who claim to be educated and literate insist that their confused perspective of "taking" things and "bringing" things is correct. I hope I helped! It was the simplest way I could think to word my explanation. 

Dear Lady,

You offered a splendid, simple answer and at the very least allayed some of my concerns that I was alone in my frustration. :-)

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To supplant the word "takes" with "bring" is a misuse of diction. The word "take" is verb form of "carry out" while the word "brings" is a verb form of "take." "Brought" is the transitive verb of "bring." Thus, the words "take" and "bring" are not to be used interchangeably, but rather to be used in context. For instance, you take away or take out as in a carry away or carry out. But you bring an object inside or bring from out, as in a take inside. Another simple example of proper usage of "take" is - - take the textbook to school. On the other hands, you bring your report card from school. The usage of these words should be seen from the perspective of the user. For instance, a school teacher would tell his students to take the note home to their parents. It would be erroneous to use the word “bring” in this example, even though, “bring” is a verb form of “take.”

You take something away.  Then you bring something back.  Unfortunately, people are prone to misuse the two, due to laziness or ignorance.  A shop-lifter takes a sweater.  The police bring it back!

Hi there Jay! Your question is really about changes in common usage. "take" and "bring" are equivalent as a pair to "go" and "come". They are directional verbs that are relative to the position of the speaker, and they are both regularly misused in common speech! My opinion? As a writing coach who hears and reads young people's utterances on a regular basis, I believe that precision of expression is fading because of the sloppiness of expression in mass media and the hours of mass media consumed by children. That is to say, you are what you practice, and if your practice consists of listening to hours of sloppy speakers, you will tend to speak that way. Grammar, per se, is rarely taught in school and teachers tend to care more about "creativity" than "grammar". Well, both are important! And it's unfortunate that so many people are left without the tools to express himself so that others will understand.

You may hear bring more because bring refers to movement from farther away to the place of speaking. If two people are talking in the living room and one of them was going to obtain some sandwiches in the kitchen and move them to the the living room, he would say, "I am going to bring some sandwiches," because movement from far to near is implied.

Take, on the other hand, refers to movement from near to far. In the same example, if the person were going to move the sandwiches from the living room to the kitchen, he would say, "I'm going to take these back to the kitchen," because movement from near (the living room where the people and the sandwiches currently are) to far (the kitchen where the sandwiches will be) is implied.

If you work in any form of retail where you have to order product for your business, you and your coworkers may be more interested in what the suppliers are bringing than what the customers are taking.

Another possible reason you may hear bring more than take is that people around you may be using the words incorrectly.

Jay,

The verbs bring and take do not actually fall into the same category, in a historical sense, but are, today, semantically similar.

Bring finds it's root in a verb meaning to bear. Originally, the verb that meant to bear was only used in the sense of to carry, but through semantic shift, it also gained the meaning of to expell a fetus from ones uterus; this is where we get the verb to birth (hang-in there, I've got a point to make). It also gained the meaning of to give, which semantically supports your assumption that bring and take have an opposite and reciprocal relationship, as to give and to take do. But we will see that the former pair (the one of direct discussion) actually does not.

To bring is classified as a ditransitive verb (hereby referred to as dative), in that one can say 'He brings the woman the wrench' which is the dative construction of 'He brings the wrench to the woman'. In the dative construction, the to is implied by the word order.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines bring as:"to convey, lead, carry [sth], or cause to come along with one[self] toward the place from which the action is being regarded". In most cases of usage, either the location of acquirement or the goal location is implied. Let's refer back to my original example sentence, in it's non-dative construction: 'He brings the wrench to the woman'. Now, if we extract the implied location of acquisition, it reads: 'He brings the wrench from the toolbox to the woman'. In this way, the goal location can also be omitted, as in: 'He brings the wrench (to the woman) from the toolbox'.

Okay, while this is all fine and good, what about take? I'm glad you asked. :)

Take finds its root in a transitive (more specifically, accusative) verb which meant to remove or to grasp. It eventually won the favor of Old English speakers over it's rival nimen, which had the same meaning. Initially, as an accusative verb, one had the ability to say: 'He takes the wrench from {out of} the toolbox', but not 'He takes the wrench to the woman', which would assume the role of a dative verb. After all, one cannot say: 'He takes her the wrench'... or is that a possibility?

At first glance, it seems that Merriam-Webster only lists the verb to take under it's historical meaning of: "to get into one's hands or into one's possession, power, or control". But if one were to look further, it defines this verb under 15a as: "to lead, carry [sth], or cause to go along to another place".

Sound familiar to anyone? And sure, one might point out that the definition doesn't refer to a location of acquisition, and therefore does not render the term synonymous with to bring. However nobody ever said that Merriam-Webster was exempt from implying a datum by omission. It stands that: if one is carrying something to a goal location, there is (at least implied) a location of acquisition.

It seems that semantic drift has gotten it's hands on to take, appending to it an additional meaning of to carry, much like it affected to bear by semantically taxing the verb to give and varying itself to also mean to birth and to bring. Semantic drift also gives to take the option of being either accusative or dative, depending on the context. Therefore, a sentence like: 'He takes her the wrench', is not only grammatically correct, but semantically correct as well, and there is an implied '...from the toolbox' which has been omitted.

 Semantic drift, the "incorrect usage" of words by younger generations is a natural process of linguistic evolution. It, along with many other processes has affected every single word we use today. It is one of the reasons why we do not speak Middle English, but Modern American English. And in the history of language: Usage dictates diction and not the other way around. And with that, I'd like to leave you with a TED talk by Erin McKean, a lexicographer.

http://www.ted.com/talks/erin_mckean_redefines_the_dictionary.html

I hope that this comment (it's really more of an essay) was insightful and helpful. Let me know if you have any questions.

 

It's all in reference to direction/location. Which one you use depends on your perspective of the action.

Our children bring us their homework to check and then they take their homework back to take school.

However, from the perspective of our children, they take their homework to us and bring it back to school.

Bring indicates that their is an action coming toward us. Take is the action taken from us; or going away from us.

Today's writers often interchange these two words mistakenly because they think they can be interchanged; however, they cannot as you see above it changes the whol perspective of the scenario.

 

 

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Thank you. I think.

I understand your very cogent explanation, but it just seems that more and more adults who should know better, are making this mistake.  For example: the parent who might tell that child "BRING this back to school", vice "TAKE this back to school." I hear...too often...similiar examples, and I fear that ignorance, not perspective, is the reason, but whatever the reasoning, the word "Take" seems to fading from many peoples vocabulary. (And I'm not sure I want my vocabulary dictated by children's understanding of proper usage.)

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