Results 1 to 5 of 5

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 4
    #1

    Question Give a Bath vs. Take a Bath

    I have a dear friend who has a disabled brother. He often says he is going to "take him a bath". When I try to correct him and tell him he is about to GIVE his brother a bath, he gets upset b/c his mother taught him that "take him a bath" is proper. Could you please help me explain to him why this is incorrect? He doesn't believe me, and I cannot find the grammar rules to justify myself. Any help (links?) would be appreciated. Thank you!
    Last edited by Aggie98; 02-Oct-2006 at 20:10. Reason: Punctuation

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 24,983
    #2

    Re: Give a Bath vs. Take a Bath

    Quote Originally Posted by Aggie98 View Post
    I have a dear friend who has a disabled brother. He often says he is going to "take him a bath". When I try to correct him and tell him he is about to GIVE his brother a bath, he gets upset b/c his mother taught him that "take him a bath" is proper. Could you please help me explain to him why this is incorrect? He doesn't believe me, and I cannot find the grammar rules to justify myself. Any help (links?) would be appreciated. Thank you!
    There is no doubt that in my dialect (AE) "take him a bath" is wrong. I don't know if it is a why question, though. It simply isn't idiomatic English. One can take a bath or give someone a bath. We don't give a bath or take someone a bath.

    Google returns a lot of hits for "take him a bath". Perhaps it is correct in some other dialect.

  2. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
    • Posts: 1,552
    #3

    Re: Give a Bath vs. Take a Bath

    One the face of it, a person can take a cookie, or you can give that person a cookie.

    That seems logical enough, but you can also take that person a cookie. The difference is that you might take someone a cookie from the cookie jar, but when you bring that cookie to that person, you give them the cookie. It depends on whether you're referring to the place the cookie originated or its intended recipient.

    With baths, that's not quite so clear cut, because actually you don't take the bath anywhere -- on the contrary, you take the person to be bathed to the bath.

    Given the prevelance of the phrase, all we can say with confidence is that it is non-standard English. But English is more than standards; there are many different dialects, and what is incorrect in standard English may be perfectly correct in one or more dialects.

    As a matter of fact, it isn't a grammar issue (the grammar is actually perfect), it's a usage issue. And usage is even harder to pin down than grammar, which is why you can't find any grammar rules to support your view.

    Google doesn't list that many hits for "take him a bath", incidentally. It does claim to have found about 41,000, but will only list 27, which is odd. Still, I can tell you that it does crop up in both American and British contexts, so although it's non-standard, it does appear to be used on both sides of the Atlantic.

  3. BobK's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2006
    • Posts: 16,038
    #4

    Re: Give a Bath vs. Take a Bath

    Quote Originally Posted by Aggie98 View Post
    I have a dear friend who has a disabled brother. He often says he is going to "take him a bath". When I try to correct him and tell him he is about to GIVE his brother a bath, he gets upset b/c his mother taught him that "take him a bath" is proper
    .
    .
    .
    Another thing worth considering in this context is the mother's wishes. She may have been trying to emphasize her disabled son's will - she may have felt that the expression 'give him a bath' is somehow demeaning.

    In that case most English speakers I know would says something like 'take him to have a bath", but this particular family's usage differs from that 'standard' solution.


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 4
    #5

    Re: Give a Bath vs. Take a Bath

    Thank you all so much for your insight. You are all doing a wonderful service by devoting your time to answering these queries, and it is much appreciated.

Similar Threads

  1. mixed bath
    By Itasan in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 22-Dec-2005, 06:25
  2. Give me a minute
    By amigo in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 20-Oct-2004, 11:15
  3. Give in X Give up
    By apparrode in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 29-Apr-2004, 23:40
  4. Give in X Give up
    By apparrode in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 05-Apr-2004, 23:28
  5. bath
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 25-Apr-2003, 03:31

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •