Bring Versus Take

Today's topic is bring versus take.

Mignon Fogarty,
Episode #061

The Irish Twist

Finally, here’s the Irish twist. A number of people have told me that Irish speakers handle “bring” and “take” differently. Apparently Irish speakers use “bring” in more circumstances than American or British speakers would. For example, Wikipedia says an Irish speaker would think it is fine to say “Bring your umbrella with you when you leave,” even though the American and British rules would favor “take” in that sentence.

Gaeilge has words that are roughly equivalent to “bring” and “take”—beir and tóg—but the meanings aren’t exactly the same. “Beir” can mean “bring” and “take,” and “tóg” means “take,” but it can also mean “collect, build” and lots of other things. According to a commenter on the blog going by simbad, in Irish, “take” has more to do with transferring possession than changing location.


To summarize, there’s an interesting Irish deviation from the rules, but if you’re in America or Britain, remember that when the locations are clear, you ask people to bring things to you and your location and you take things to other people and locations. If you’re talking about an event in the future, the word you use indicates where you are imagining yourself in the scenario.


Thanks to Stan Carey, an Irish writer who helped me with Irish section. Any errors are my own, but he pointed me in the right starting direction.

NOTE: This is a significant update to an article that was originally published in 2007.

Image: Irish Clover, Wikimedia. CC BY 3.0 Unported. 


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