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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

5 Answers 5

up vote 3 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

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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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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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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