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Being both non-natives, I had some discussion today about the following situation: suppose you're at a party and you want to take/bring your drunk buddy home.

I believe that:

  • "I'll take you home" means come, I'll bring you away and then I'll go back or go to my place. This is going away from the party.
  • "I'll bring you home" means come with me and we both go home. We probably both live at that place or it is our end stop. This is coming to home.

She believes that:

  • "I'll take you home" means either of the above, because you're both in the same room when you ask and you're going away from.
  • "I'll bring you home" is an invalid construct in that situation, or actually is always invalid. I was opposing to that that I actually remember to have heard the phrase quite often.

I know the general meaning and differences between bring and take. However, I somehow couldn't get my head around this. Any native speaker that can shed some light here? There's an extra beer at stake!

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@RegDwightѬſ道: I read those. The thing is that to me, with those rules, both seem correct, because I'm both going away and coming to. – Abel Apr 12 '12 at 20:56
@Abel: Also have a look at this Wikipedia article re the Irish usage which may not be explicitly mentioned on our earlier answers. In essence, to some speakers it's irrelevant which direction anything goes - all that matters is whether possession is being transferred to another person. – FumbleFingers Apr 13 '12 at 0:49
I think in any situation like this you need to make clear whether you're taking the individual to their place or yours. You can't rely on the implications of "take" vs "bring" or any other linguistic subtlety. This is especially true where beer (or some other "adult beverage") is involved. – Hot Licks Jul 13 at 20:27

8 Answers 8

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I'm not an English major, but I am a native speaker.

"I'll bring you home" is definitely not invalid; it's a perfectly fine thing to say, and I think your meaning is correct.

However, "I'll take you home" does not imply that you live at the same place, or that you're going to be staying over. I think it just implies a sort-of dominance on the role of the speaker. I would imagine this being said by a person speaking to someone who is more drunk than they are, or by a speaker who knows the way home better than the other person. Although, to be fair, it probably depends a lot more on who says it, how they say it, and exactly how they phrase it and not so much on bring versus take. For example, "I can take you to your place" has essentially the same meaning as "I'll bring you home."

I think the most natural thing to say in the case that you are both going back to the same place, or both heading home is "Let's go home."

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Thanks, that does help. But I wonder whether this is a colloquial or the actual semantic or formal meaning? – Abel Apr 12 '12 at 21:07
My guess is it's just colloquial. I clarified the paragraph about "I'll take you home", because I think the part about it implying a dominance may be overreaching. Meanings can depend a lot on who says it and how they say it. – user545424 Apr 12 '12 at 21:11
I eventually accepted this answer because of the mention of the dominance the phrase "I'll take you home" implies, but the other answers in this thread have been equally informative and show me how non-trivial a simple choice of words can be. – Abel Jun 25 '12 at 21:55
I'm not sure where this 'dominance' thing is coming from. The only dominance I sense is that the person doing the 'taking' is driving. – DCShannon Jul 13 at 19:55

Funny how you said "both seem correct," because that's exactly what I thought upon reading your question. I have no problem with the distinction you delineated, yet I wouldn't object to accepting them as synonymous, either.

Oftentimes, words can be "bent" to mean something more specific, or more general, depending on the context; this is a great example of that phenomenon. I may concur with your differentiation – but, at the same time, I would never argue with my designated driver, "No! Don't bring me home – take me home!" (at least, not unless I had had WAY too much to drink). Nor would I protest, "No! Don't take me home - bring me home!" unless I had had too much to drink, and she was particularly good-looking. (But, even in that case, she'd probably only take me home anyways).

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Currently, she sits next to me and drunkenness is yet to take her down before I can bring her anywhere ;). +1, nice explanation. – Abel Apr 12 '12 at 21:26
Presumably you're an AmE speaker? – Mitch Apr 12 '12 at 23:22

I am a native speaker, and I don't think I would ever say "I will bring you home." if I were taking someone away from an establishment.

I might say "I will bring you home." if speaking to a boyfriend or girlfriend who I wanted to bring home to meet my parents.

So, sorry Abel, I side with the "She" in your discussion (except that I just gave a valid use of "bring you home").

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The distinction between "take" and "bring" appears to be regional. In the SE US, "bring" is never used when you talking about an immediate action. It means something you will do in the future and the destination is somewhere the person being transported will be returning to. There is an implied "back" after the "you". Example usages are "If you drop your car off at the garage, I'll also drive to bring you back to work.", "If you get a ride to the concert, I'll bring you home" and "I'll be there in 10 minutes to bring you home." If you are talking about a near future event, it usually means you are at the place you will "bring" the person to. It all cases, it usually means transporting the person to the same place you are going. It is not used in cases such as "I'll bring you to the doctor's office" because you are not returning to that place.

"Take" can be used in any context: present or future, whether the person being transported is returning, whether you and the other person are at the same place or whether you are going to the same place. So, in can be used in all the above contexts and in usages such as "I can take you to the doctor's office" and "I'm leaving now, so I can take you."

As someone else mentioned, in the SE US, "carry" is often used in place of "take". "Carry" is used when the act is merely transporting a person or thing. "Take" is used the act is more than just transporting--when you are responsible for the person or thing being at the destination. For example, you would "carry" a friend to pick their car at the garage, but you would "take" your child to the doctor. However, this distinction is not always observed.

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Interesting observations, would you happen to also know some authorative references to these regional distinctions? – Abel Nov 25 '14 at 17:59
@Abel: Unfortunately no. My comments are based on a lifetime of living in the SE (Huntsville, AL mostly) and listening to others from many socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds as they speak and thinking about what I hear. I've also discussed this with people who moved to the SE and commented on the differences in language they heard. Many people moving here think it is weird to "carry" a person somewhere. People who grew up here think weird that other people think its weird. – Wayne Goode Nov 25 '14 at 23:19
I think I've heard this usage of 'carry' before in the southeast, and it is definitely colloquial. Elsewhere, 'carrying' a person means that you've picked them up in your arms. – DCShannon Jul 13 at 19:54

Take: I will convey you to someplace other than where I am as I speak. Bring: I will convey you to where I am as I speak.

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In the South folks often say carry instead of take or bring. For example, "I'll carry you to your Dr. appointment.

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Generally speaking, you don't 'bring' someone or something somewhere other than where you're already at.

So, I might say "I'll bring you home" if I was already at home and someone else who lived there called and asked for a ride.

If we were both at the party, and lived at different places, I would say "I'll take you home".

If we were both at the party, and both lived at the same place, I would say "I'll drive us home". You could say "I'll take us home" or "let's go, I'll drive" or various other things just as easily.

That being said, I think a lot of native speakers largely ignore this distinction. If we were out at a party and someone used 'bring' when they should have used 'take' I would not bother mentioning it.

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The last is correct. It's about the geography. I'll take you there. Neither of us are there at present. Bring her to me. I am already there.

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protected by Andrew Leach Nov 25 '14 at 7:10

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