Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Truly Ridiculous Post

All authors have their grammatical bugaboos. Things they have a mental block about and, at the least, have to think hard about when they use them.

Mine is bring/take. I was probably near 30 when someone told me I use them interchangeably and I'm not supposed to. I was floored. I mean, I grew up with a mother who corrected every sentence. "There's cars" still echoes through my head whenever I think of "Mom" and "grammar" together. I took AP English. And got a 5. But no one ever taught me that bring/take don't mean the same thing.

I still struggle with it, though I do get the basic idea. "Bring" is action toward the speaker, and "take" is action away. But what if the action has nothing to do with the speaker?

The example that used to vex me was when I edited case management reports. The case manager would say that Medical Equipment Company X brought/took a bed to the patient. If the point of view is MEC-X, they took it. If the point of view is the patient, they brought it. But the point of view is a third party who is not part of the action. She was not at the MEC-X when they left, nor at the patient's when it arrived. I think I settled on "took."

The example that prompted this rather silly post was this:

I've been giving my husband my Entertainment Weekly magazines for his bathroom. They've been piling up because I scolded him when I found some in the trash. We recycle glossy paper. So he set them on my dresser, which is right outside his bathroom. I think he wants me to deal with them, which is just annoying.

So I was thinking that I will tell him, "When you're done with the magazines, bring them to the kitchen and put them in the paper bag by the desk."

Immediately, Vicky Burkholder's voice echoed in my head. "It should be take them to the kitchen."

My mental response? "Not if I'm in the kitchen when he brings them."

Yes, I am a smartass. My mother always said that, too. :)

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