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I believe that the rules of usage on "take vs. bring" may be applied toward use of transportation. My friends disagree. It started when I said, "My wife takes the bus to work, but she brings the train home." They taunted me, asserting that you can't "bring" a train home. I believe that this is proper usage. Is it?

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    Definitely not. 'Take a/the train/bus/ferry ...' are idioms, without a corresponding 'bring a train' etc (though you could use this literally if you have one on your ferry). Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 17:57
  • You 'take' a train in the same way as you might 'take' a path.
    – Lee Leon
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 18:36
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    A train can bring you home... I've heard it books.google.co.uk/…
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 20:12
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    You can only "bring the train home" if you have a convenient way to carry it :P
    – Laurel
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 20:25
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    @JohnLawler "Come home from work" is a common phrase, so this doesn't explain why "Bring to train home" doesn't work. Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 20:29

2 Answers 2

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Take has this as a definition, which is the meaning used when someone "takes a bus to work":

to use as a means of transportation

Bring does not have any similar definition, and thus can not be used in the same way.

According to that page, the "bring vs. take" distinction you mention is only relevant when bring is being used with the first definition listed there:

to carry, convey, conduct, or cause (someone or something) to come with, to, or toward the speaker

So in the case that your wife is in some way responsible for determining where the trains go, it could be accurate to say that she brings the train home... but it would primarily indicate that you currently have a large collection of buses at your house and your wife's job involves removing those buses and replacing them with a new collection of trains.

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The problem is that in "take the train home from work" is that unless it's a toy train that you could put in your purse, or you're a train engineer, "take" is not really the causative of "go", since it doesn't mean "cause the train to go home from work". In the unusual interpretations that it is a little toy train, or you're a train engineer who lives at the end of the line, so that "cause the train to go/come home to/from work" are interpretable, then "bring/take the train home from/to work" are also interpretable.

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    But a train can bring you home... books.google.co.uk/…
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 20:07
  • @Mari-LouA, Did I imply something different?
    – Greg Lee
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 20:14
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    Truth be told, I didn't really understand what you said, I understood that unless a train is a toy, you can not bring it home with you. Well, it's not the same as saying "...but a train can bring its passengers to their destination."
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 20:18
  • @Mari-LouA. I am saying, in effect, that the commonplace analyses of bring/take as causatives of come/go is correct, but has to be applied to whole phrases, not just words. For your example, the analysis implies that when a train brings a passenger home, that means that the train causes the passenger to come home.
    – Greg Lee
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 20:33

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