• 2-minute read
  • 7th October 2017

Word Choice: Bought vs. Brought

‘Buy’ and ‘bring’ are obviously different words. However, their past tense forms are only one letter apart. As such, it’s common to see ‘bought’ and ‘brought’ confused for each other. Even though this is an easy mistake to make, mixing these terms up will affect the clarity of your writing. To avoid errors in your work, it’s therefore vital to know how each term works.

Bought (Past Tense of ‘Buy’)

This term is the past tense of ‘buy’, which means ‘purchase:

He bought the book from a second-hand store.

Less literally, ‘buy’ can also mean ‘believe’. The past tense here is still ‘bought’:

She bought his story despite having been lied to before.

This second sense of ‘buy’ should not be used in formal writing, though.

Brought (Past Tense of ‘Bring’)

‘Brought’, meanwhile, is the past tense of ‘bring’, which usually means ‘take somewhere’. For instance, we could say:

She brought her cousin to the party with her.

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Another sense of ‘bring’ is ‘cause to happen’, such as in the following:

He brought the water to the boil before adding the pasta.

However ‘bring’ is used, ‘brought’ is always the correct past-tense form.

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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