bring OR take?

The verbs bring and take have many different meanings, especially as phrasal verbs.

But both bring and take have one meaning that is very similar, and involves carrying or moving something from one place to another place. This causes confusion for learners because the only real difference between them is the direction of travel, in relation to the speaker.

bring and take

bring: carry something towards the speaker

take: carry something away from the speaker OR to another place

So, the real difference between bring and take is:

verb direct object indirect object
bring something
to the speaker
take something
to anywhere but not the speaker

Look at this sample situation. The boss says to her secretary:

Note that the difference between bring and take is like the difference between come and go. (Go to the bank, then go to the travel agent, then come to me.)

Look at these example sentences with bring:

Look at these example sentences with take:

The normal rule is bring here and take there, from the speaker's point-of-view, and this is the important thing to understand. However, we do sometimes use them the other way round, usually when the speaker is looking at the situation from the listener's point-of-view. This typically happens in phone calls and emails, when the two people are in direct communication but different locations. Look at these emails:
  • I'm leaving Bangkok tonight. My flight lands in London at 6 tomorrow. Do you want me to bring some T-shirts?
  • Hi Fred. Awfully sorry, I took the office keys home with me by mistake. I'll bring them in tomorrow.