Wondering whether to use ‘brought’ or ‘bought’? We can help clear up the usage of each word, plus teach you how to use both in a sentence correctly.
The short answer is that ‘brought’ is the past tense of ‘bring,’ meaning ‘to carry someone or something to a place or person.’ ‘Bought’ is the past tense of the word ‘buy,’ meaning ‘to obtain something by paying money for it.’ Therefore, the words should never be used interchangeably.
As you just learned, the difference between ‘brought’ and ‘bought’ is that the former is the past tense of ‘bring,’ and the latter is the past tense of ‘buy.’
We learned the difference between the two words in the last section. Let’s see some examples of that.
You’ll see more examples of how to use both words in a sentence in a later section.
To help you remember, ‘brought’ begins with the same first two letters as ‘bring.’ If you can remember that, you should have no problem remembering that ‘bought’ is related to ‘buy.’ They both contain the letters ‘b’ and ‘u.’
Since we know ‘brought’ is the past tense of ‘bring,’ let’s define ‘bring.’
The Merriam-Webster definition of the word ‘brought’ is: “to convey, lead, carry, or cause to come along with one toward the place from which the action is being regarded,” “to cause to be, act, or move in a special way: such as 1) attract, 2) persuade, induce, 3) force, compel, 4) to cause to come into a particular state or condition,” “escort, accompany,” and “to bear as an attribute or characteristic.”
It also means: “to cause to exist or occur: such as a) to be the occasion of, b) to result in, c) institute, d) adduce,” “prefer,” and “to procure in exchange: sell for.”
We also know that ‘bought’ is the past tense of ‘buy,’ so let’s define ‘buy.’
The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘buy’ is: “to acquire possession, ownership, or rights to the use or services of by payment, especially of money: purchase,” “to obtain in exchange for something often at a sacrifice,” “Christianity: redeem,” “bribe, hire,” “to be the purchasing equivalent of,” and “accept, believe.”
The noun version means: “something of value at a favorable price, especially: bargain” and “an act of acquiring possession, ownership, or rights to the use or services of something by payment especially of money: an act of buying.”
We covered that ‘brought’ never involves the purchase of anything. You know what it means, so let’s take a look at some examples of how to use it correctly in a sentence.
Use bought when you’re talking about the purchase of something. Take a look at some examples:
To recap, we’ve learned that ‘brought’ is the past tense of ‘bring’ and ‘bought’ is the past tense of ‘buy.’ Keep that in mind when crafting your sentences. Use the above examples as a guide.
Feeling stuck on this or other confusing words? We’ve got a whole library of content dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases in the English language.
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