Author Topic: What's the correct usage for the verbs "brought" and "taken"?  (Read 13252 times)

Joe Carillo

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What's the correct usage for the verbs "brought" and "taken"?
« on: February 16, 2011, 06:35:35 PM »
Question from Isabel Escoda in Hong Kong (February 13, 2011):

Hey Joe—I hope you can help me out regarding a verb that’s been bothering me for a long time, one which I believe is always used in the wrong way by Pinoy journalists. It’s the past tense of the verb “bring”—“brought.”
Today a friend in Manila forwarded an article about Gen. Angelo Reyes who committed suicide.   The story had that pesky word in this sentence: “His body will be BROUGHT to Camp Aguinaldo…”
Shouldn’t the verb be TAKEN since the reporter is writing about something that isn’t being delivered to HIM (the reporter) but to somewhere else? In other words, someone BRINGS something to me, while one TAKES something to a point away from me. Am I explaining this clearly?
Other journalistic examples: “He was BROUGHT to the police station” is always used (when it should be TAKEN); “She was BROUGHT to the hospital”—again, that should be TAKEN.  One is dealing with coming and going—so why do folks get this wrong so often?


My reply to Isabel:

The verbs “bring” and “take” are actually synonymous in the sense of “to convey, lead, carry, or cause to go or come along to another place,” but the choice between the two depends on the point of view or position of the speaker in relation to the action described. When the movement is clearly toward the place from which the action is being regarded or where the speaker is, was, or will be, “bring” is conventionally used, as in “Bring your friend here,” “Your mother brought me a slice of carrot cake yesterday,” and “That little girl brings me a lot of good luck.” On the other hand, when the movement is clearly away from which the action is being regarded or where the speaker is, was, or will be, “take” is conventionally used, as in “Take your friend to the zoo,” “Your sister took some gardenias from my garden this morning,” and “The thieves took even the apple pie from the elderly couple's refrigerator.”

                                       IMAGE CREDIT: ENGLISHGRAMMAR.ORG

In the case of most news stories, however, the speaker is usually an absent third-person narrator objectively describing the action; as such, he or she is an observer who doesn't get involved or doesn’t intrude into the action. In short, in news told objectively, the news reporter is neither here nor there, and this is when the usual distinctions between “bring” and “take” no longer apply. Such is the case of the news reporter who, as you quoted from that article about Gen. Angelo Reyes’s suicide, wrote “His body will be brought to Camp Aguinaldo…” Now, you ask if “brought” is incorrectly used here and if “taken” should be used instead. I think that from the news reporter’s point of view as an absent spectator, “brought” and “taken” are both correct and can be used interchangeably. 
For the same reason, the two other journalistic examples you presented, “He was BROUGHT to the police station” and “She was BROUGHT to the hospital,” are also grammatically airtight, but, of course, so are these versions that use “taken” instead of “brought”: “He was TAKEN to the police station” and “She was TAKEN to the hospital.” From the standpoint of the objective reporter, the “brought” versions and the “taken” versions aren’t dealing with coming and going. Indeed, they are not dealing with actions towards or away from the speaker, but with lateral actions right in front of his eyes, as if on a stage tableau. In such situations, as I said earlier, the distinctions between “bring” and “take” don’t apply.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2022, 11:57:38 PM by Joe Carillo »