Friday, December 17, 2010

What's the dif?

Today I'm airing one of my pet peeves.  It's really a small part of a huge peeve, but I'm assuming your interest in my aggrevation is minimal, so I'll narrow the focus.  The overall peeve is the dumbing down of America; narrow that to the sub-peeve of improper spelling, punctuation, capitalization  and grammar becoming acceptable (even in school!).  Personally, I think this trend can be traced to e-mail and texting where speed outranks proper form, but that's neither here nor there.  Today we're concentrating on just the verbs "bring" and "take".  That's the one that drives me bonkers.  I correct my kids, I correct random kids in the library, I telegraph ESP corrections at adults, and I scream openly at the TV.  Worst of all, due to the common misusage and to Spell Check's replacement of human editing, this grammatical glitch has found it's way into *gasp* books!   

To clarify: the words bring and take are not necessarily interchangeable.  Yes, there are certain exceptions to the rule depending on whether the speaker is assuming the point of view of another, but I'm talking only about basic usage.  I looked at several references to get a definitive rule for deciding which word to use, and they all agreed with this basic rule of thumb from the American Heritage Dictionary:

"Bring" indicates movement towards something (bring to) and "take" indicates movement away from something (take away).

If I am at home, giving my child a reminder before she leaves for school, I would say "Don't forget to bring your history book home." (move it toward this place).  If I were her teacher, standing in the school building, I would say "Don't forget to take your history book home." (move it away from this place).

I know my grammar and spelling are not always correct, but that particular burr gets under my saddle.  Thanks for listening.  What grammar or speech quirks rub you the wrong way? Next week I'll be covering sentences ending in prepositions and the removal of handwriting skills from school curriculums.


  1. Thanks for posting this. This one is definitely on my list of pet peeves. For me, it's so clear in my head I can't understand why others get it wrong.

    Another one is the improper use of "myself".

  2. My husband and I are always arguing about the proper use of "bring" and "take" - thank you for the clarification!