Bring it On!

Or should that be ‘take it on’?

My father was an old-style grammar purist, and his all-time pet peeve was when people said or wrote ‘bring’ when they meant ‘take.’  An example: I’m on the phone with my sister today and say, ‘I’ll bring potato salad to the cookout tomorrow.’

Technically, one can argue that I’ll bring it with me when I come to the cookout, but because I’m not now en route — and I’m planning to go — it should be ‘I’ll take potato salad … tomorrow.’  The cookout has yet to happen, so I’m planning to take the potato salad.  If I’m on the phone with her right this minute and headed out the door, then I can say ‘I’m bringing the potato salad’ since the ‘with me as I come’ is understood.

When my sister and I were growing up, this became something of a family joke with our dad.  Usually we were careful to use the right word if Dad was within earshot, but as we got older, we’d sometimes do the opposite to get a rise out of him.  It didn’t take him long to catch on, of course, and my mother, sister and I all had fun baiting him just to see his eyes twinkle.

I confess that I’ve taken a less purist tack for some years now, even before Dad died, but only in spoken conversation.  If I’m writing and/or editing, I pay much more attention and I’m careful to use the correct word in the appropriate context.

Would that I could take that to the bank, but at least I know it would bring a twinkle to my dad’s eyes.

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