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My husband continuously uses bring versus take incorrectly. For example:

I will bring him to church on Sunday.

The correct form is to say:

I will take him to church on Sunday.

I cannot find this grammar rule in Strunk and White. Could someone please state the rule?

3 Answers 3

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In English, the use of "bring" vs. "take" seems closely matched with the use of "come" vs. "go". Related to your example:

Come to church with me.

Let's go to church together.

These requests are more or less the same, even though they use two different verbs with opposite meaning.

Nevertheless there is an underlying logic. Which verb you choose reflects what point-of-view from which you imagine the movement. If you picture yourself already at the church, then you can use come. If you picture yourself at another location, moving toward the church, then you use go.

In the same way bring feels like you are coming with the person to the place you want to be.

Let me bring you to church today.

Otherwise, if you feel like you are moving toward some other location, you take the person to the place where you want to go.

Let me take you to church today.

Same meaning, just different points-of-view.

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  • Yeah, this definitely matches colloquial usage I've seen, which can use both verbs correctly and almost interchangeably. Dec 3, 2016 at 7:03
  • I'd argue that you can't bring anybody anywhere. If I'm already at church, I can't bring you there. I can invite you to come to church, but I don't think that means I'm bringing you. If I take you to church, we get in the car together and I drive you there. However, if I were already at church, I could ask somebody else to bring you to church. Dec 3, 2016 at 18:31
  • If I have an item, I can take it somewhere but I can't bring it. If I don't have an item, it can be brought to me but not taken to me. Dec 3, 2016 at 18:32
  • @JasonSwett I agree it's not logical but nevertheless it's perfectly natural English. And, yes, an item can be taken to me (by someone else), that's also perfectly natural English, as imagined from that person's perspective.
    – Andrew
    Dec 3, 2016 at 21:56
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You ask people to bring things to the place you are, and you take things to the place you are going

So you are correct

You take him to church on Sunday.

On the other hand

Bring
Bring describes the movement of something toward a specified location

Take
Take, on the other hand, generally describes the movement of something away from a location.

Though on other occasions possibly

dragged kicking and screaming
to make someone do something that they do not want to do

might come to mind.

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Technically, your husband's sentence would be correct IF he said it while he was at the church. Otherwise, your version would be correct.

There is a subtlety when we talk about bringing something with us, because we are always with ourselves. So, for example, it would be quite correct to say "I will bring the candles [assumed - with me when I come] to church on Sunday".

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    +1 So are you in fact saying that we would normally expect take but that OP's husband usage is actually correct? It might be good to put that in your answer! Dec 3, 2016 at 10:39
  • I don't think so. Someone else could bring the husband's friend to church but the husband himself could not bring someone to church if he was already there. All he could do is invite or summon them. Not bring. Dec 3, 2016 at 18:34

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