• 2-minute read
  • 27th June 2018

Word Choice: Bought vs. Brought

The words “buy” and “bring” are easy to tell apart. The past tense versions of these words, however, are very similar, which can lead to confusion. That is partly because these are irregular verbs, so we can’t add an “-ed” and say “buyed” and “bringed” (even if that would be simpler).

In this post, then, we’re looking at the words “bought” and “brought.”

Bought (Past Tense of “Buy”)

“Bought” is the simple past tense and past participle of “buy.” We use it when someone has exchanged money for something. For example:

I went to the store and bought cookies.

Here, for example, the speaker is describing having purchased baked goods.

This is the main use of “bought,” but it is also used for other senses of “buy.” These include believing something (e.g., “I can’t believe she bought his lie”) or bribing someone (e.g., “they bought the police chief’s silence with an envelope of money”). These are less formal uses of the word, though.

Brought (Past Tense of “Bring”)

We use “brought” when someone or something has been taken somewhere. For instance, we could say:

I brought my sister to the party with me.

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Another common use of this term is to mean “made to happen,” such as in:

After the party ended in disaster, we brought legal action against the host.

In all cases, “brought” is the simple past tense or past participle of “bring.”

Summary: Bought or Brought?

While these words are similar in spelling, they have different meanings:

  • Bought is the past tense and past participle of the verb “buy.” It typically refers to having purchased something for money.
  • Brought is the past tense and past participle of the verb “bring.” It usually refers to having taken something somewhere or having caused something.

However, since “buy” does not have an “r” in it, it should be easy to remember that “brought” is the past tense of “bring.”

And to make sure your writing is error free, why not submit a document to our proofreaders today? We can check your spelling is always correct.


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