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In the dictionary, bring means "to take something or someone with you to the place where you are now, or to the place you are talking about" and bring back "to take something or someone with you when you come back from somewhere".

Is the place the difference? "Bring" is limited to the place you are now or talking about and "bring back" any place?

In general I don't see any difference between these sentences:

Could you bring something back to the kids?

Could you bring something to the kids?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Apart from the fact that we would normally say '"for" the kids', rather than using 'to', both sentences are grammatically correct.

Using 'back' merely implies that you are returning to the place from which you started, and that the person speaking is at that place. If the person speaking is with you, it then becomes a matter of 'taking' something rather than 'bringing' something.

Just to clarify, let's suppose I am going to Seringapatam for the week, my wife might say:

'Don't forget to bring back something for the kids'

If, however she comes to Seringapatam with me, she might say whilst we are there

'We must take something back for the kids'.

Now if I hear that my long lost sister who lives in Seringapatam is coming to visit us, I might say to my wife:

'I hope she brings something for the kids' (Note: no use of 'back')

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