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See these definitions

to fetch: to go to another place to get something or someone and bring it, him, or her back:

[ + two objects ] Could you fetch me my glasses/fetch my glasses for me from the other room, please?

I have to fetch my mother from the station.

This glass has been used - please fetch me a clean one.

Would you like to wait out here, and the doctor will come and fetch you in a minute?

She fetched another chair from the dining room.

He fetches the children from school on Mondays and Fridays.

That looks uncomfortable. I'll go and fetch a cushion for you.


to bring: to take or carry someone or something to a place or a person, or in the direction of the person speaking:

"Shall I bring anything to the party?" "Oh, just a bottle."

[ + two objects ] Bring me that knife/Bring that knife to me.

Can you help me bring in the shopping (= take it into the house)?

The police brought several men in for questioning (= took them to the police station because they might have been involved in a crime).

When they visit us they always bring their dog with them.

I'll see if Louisa will bring her guitar to the party.

Please remember to bring a mat and a towel with you to the next aerobics class.

Is it okay if I bring a friend to the party?

The waiter brought the menu and the wine list.

I brought him some sandwiches because I thought he might be hungry.

Say there are 2 situation.

Situation 1: Tom & Mary are in a room. A ball is right next to Mary.

Tom should say "Bring the ball to me", right?

Situation 2: But if the ball is 3 meters far from Mary's position.

Tom should say "Fetch the ball for me", right?

But many people, especially American people think "Fetch" is rude. But if they don't want to use the word "fetch", then they have to use a much longer expression "go get the ball & bring it to me".

Would American say "bring the ball to me" in Situation 2? But then the word "bring" doesn't carry the meaning "going to someplace..."

So, how do American people express themselves in this situation?

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  • Be careful here: Most Americans (and I do mean most) use bring for take. Instead of saying: "My mother took me to the game." [as in drove me, for example] they often say: "My mother brought me to the game."
    – Lambie
    Oct 24, 2019 at 17:34
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    Your link re rudeness of fetch is dubious. If you tell a waiter, "Fetch me some water." that is rude in any English as it is a command. It has zero to do with BrE versus AmE per se.
    – Lambie
    Oct 24, 2019 at 17:45
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    "Fetch" is not a common word in U.S. English. It is mainly used as a command to a dog. (It may historically have been addressed primarily to servants.) Thus its usual context gives it a disparaging tone when applied to humans although its root was a merely a synonym for "bring." Oct 24, 2019 at 17:49
  • @JeffMorrow It really does not matter how you issue a command using an imperative. It will be rude in any case. Fetch me some water. Get me some water. Pretty rude, if said to a waiter. Sure, people say fetch to dogs in US but they do not use it for utterances that mean: get me, pick up [at a place]. No one would say "Fetch me some water." to be rude or in reference to dogs in AmE. Anyway, fetch that way is: fetch the bone, fetch the ball.
    – Lambie
    Oct 24, 2019 at 18:51
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    @Lambie I was not saying that "Bring me some water" is not rude. I cannot even imagine where you see that implied in my comment. What I was saying was why "fetch" may be perceived as rude even if preceded by "please." Nor was I am implying that dogs are equipped to provide water to humans. You are inferring a lot that simply is not there. Oct 24, 2019 at 22:16

3 Answers 3

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American English speakers do not use fetch as often as go and get, bring [me, etc.] or pick up.

1) BrE: I have to fetch my mother from the station. AmE: I have to pick up my mother from the station. [or go and get]

2) BrE This glass has been used - please fetch me a clean one. AmE: Please get me a clean one.

Most of the examples given under fetch would become get or pick up or go and get in American English, even though AmE speakers understand what fetch means. The very usual fetch in BrE in sentences like "I will fetch them at/from the station" is go and get or pick up in AmE.

So, bring is not used for fetch in American English. Or in British English either.

Fetch is not rude in American English at all. Any order in English could be considered rude: - Go get that ball for me. - Go fetch that ball for me.

Fetch is usually farther away than three meters.

  • Go fetch the ball in the garden and bring it indoors. [BrE]
  • Bring me that ball. [BrE or AmE]

Summary: In AmE, fetch is usually: go and get, get, or pick up.

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You have correctly identified that bringing is only part of fetching and fetching also involves going somewhere first.

A polite way in which an English speaker might ask somebody to fetch something would be:

Could you bring me that ball please?

Though, using fetch here isn't that much ruder if you ask me. It's all a matter of context. Add a please, phrase it as a question, give an explanation why you don't go get it yourself.

Could you fetch me that ball please? I'd do it myself, but my hands are full.

I hope that helps.

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  • Well, I for one would use "would" rather than "could." Oct 24, 2019 at 17:50
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Lambie gave a good answer and I upvoted it, but let me add a couple of comments:

As Lambie says, Americans rarely say "fetch". Not because it is considered rude, but because ... we simply don't. It would be considered equally rude in English to say "Bring me a glass of water" as "Fetch me a glass of water". To make it police we either add "please", as in, "Please bring me a glass of water", or turn it into a question, "Would you bring me a glass of water?"

If "fetch" in British English implies traveling some distance and then bringing an object back while "bring" implies no movement, no such distinction exists in American English. If Al is sitting next to a basketball and Bob says, "Fetch me that basketball", an American would not consider anything odd about that. Likewise if the basketball is in another room, in AmE it would be perfectly normal to say, "Bring me the basketball".

So yes, instead of saying "fetch" Americans typically say "bring", "get", "go and get", or "pick up". Probably others I'm not thinking of.

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  • Please fetch my book in the kitchen. Please bring me my book from the kitchen. There would be distance in that.
    – Lambie
    Mar 10 at 22:32
  • Personally I would not say "fetch my book in the kitchen". I'd say "fetch my book FROM the kitchen". I suspect most Americans would say the same, but I must confess I haven't made a study of this.
    – Jay
    Mar 11 at 2:46
  • You said there was no implied distance with fetch. That is not the case.
    – Lambie
    Mar 11 at 16:45
  • @Lambie To an American, I don't think there is an implied distance with "fetch". If you were sitting next to a water bottle, it was within your reach, and I said, "Will you fetch me that water bottle?", I don't think most Americans would say, "I don't understand. Fetch? It's right here, not in the next room." Maybe you put different connotations on the word than I do. That's what I mean about not having done a study of this. Would most Americans understand it to mean you have to go somewhere to get the thing, or not?
    – Jay
    Mar 11 at 19:23
  • No British person would use fetch like that (if you are sitting next to a bottle of water). They would say: Pass me or hand me the bottle of water. As soon as you say fetch, a distance is involved. If you say the dog fetches a bone, he goes a distance to get it.
    – Lambie
    Mar 11 at 19:26

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