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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > Take back vs. bring back    

Take back vs. bring back


Take back vs. bring back
Hello all,

a student of mine asked me about the difference between "take back" and "bring back".

Obviously I cannot say to somebody who just insulted me, to "bring that back", though "Take that back!Angry" would be correct.

But in cases like "taking a book back to the library" and "bringing a book back to the library" I �m just not sure about the differences. I think they are both correct.

Could anybody clarify that for me?
Thanks for your help!

4 Nov 2011      

United States

Hi, Mietz,
As with everything in English, there are many exceptions, but the basic rule is the direction relative to the speaker.
Take is moving away from the person speaking.
Bring is moving toward the person speaking.
You can see that when I say, "Take that back", I am speaking and the words are "moving" away from me (back to you), so this follows the rule.
If the librarian calls me, she will say, "Please bring this book back to the library" (the book will move toward the speaker). I will tell my class, "Please excuse me while I take this book back to the library" (The book will move away from the speaker).
If you call me and ask me to drive you to school, while we are talking, you might ask "Can you also bring me home afterwards?" (towards the location you are currently in). At school, you might remind me, saying, "Don �t forget you �re taking me home today" (away from the location you are currently in).
I hope this is useful for you,

4 Nov 2011     


Great explanation Bruce! Thank you ever so much for the quick help! Clap

4 Nov 2011     

United States

Oh, and I should add that what I wrote is standard usage except in Brooklyn (a borough of New York City), where they reverse the two words.
Bruce  Wink

5 Nov 2011