Brought vs. Bought: What’s the Difference?

Brought and bought are two different words with two different meanings and two different spellings. Despite their differences, however, brought and bought have a lot in common.

First off, they are both verbs. Second, they are both irregular verb. Third, they are both the past simple/past participle forms of their respective verbs. And even though they have different spellings, only one letter separates the two.

When they are spoken, you may or may not hear audibly the “r,” but you definitely see it when written in text, so it’s important not to confuse the two.

What is the Difference Between Brought and Bought?

In this post, I want to talk about the differences between these two words: brought vs. bought. I will go over their definitions and their uses in a sentence. Plus, at the end, I will give you a trick to remember the difference.

After reading this post, you won’t even again second-guess yourself by thinking, “Should I use brought or bought?”

When to Use Brought

brought versus bought grammar rulesWhat does brought mean? Brought is the past tense and past participle of bring. It is defined as to carry, convey, lead, of cause to go along to another place

  • Did you bring you cellphone with you?
  • I brought enough money for the entire trip.
  • The role brought him fame and an Emmy and enshrined him in popular memory as the ever-present handyman in T-shirt and vest. –L.A. Times

If you bring something with you, you take it along with you.

Common Phrases Using Bring / Brought

There are many common phrases that use the verb bring. Here is a brief sampling of some of the more popular phrases and idioms.

To bring about: to cause something to happen.

  • The president’s speech brought about a change in public approval.

To bring around: to cause to adopt an opinion.

  • Don’t worry; we will bring him around eventually.

To bring down: to cause to fall or collapse, whether literally or figuratively.

  • The detonators successfully brought the entire building down.
  • The departure of their latest CEO could bring down the company.

To bring home the bacon: to earn a living, especially for a family; the breadwinner.

  • I need to work hard, so that I can bring home the bacon.

To bring to light: to reveal or disclose.

  • This book really brought to light how important good nutrition is.

When to Use Bought

definition of brought and boughtWhat does bought mean? Bought is the past tense and past participle of buy. It is defined as to acquire in exchange for money; to purchase.

  • Will you buy me lunch?
  • John bought a new car.
  • Media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who last year bought roughly 60 acres near Telluride Ski Resort in Colorado, has bought a nearby property for $14 million. –The Wall Street Journal

If you have bought something, you have purchased it.

Common Phrases Using Buy / Bought

Here are a few common phrases that use the verb buy.

To buy time: delay an event temporarily so as to have more time to improve one’s position.

  • The senator wants to buy time until he can get enough votes.

To buy up: to purchase all that is available of.

  • The real estate developers bought up all the land in the area.

To buy in: to purchase shares to be a part of something; used commonly in poker.

  • You need to buy-in to this game to play.

To buy out: to purchase the entire stock, business rights, or interests of.

  • We bought out all the other shareholders and now own 51 percent.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Here’s a trick to remember bought vs. brought in your future writing.

Bought is the past tense of buy. Neither word has an “r.”

Brought is the past tense of bring. Both words have an “r” in them.


Is it bought or brought? What a difference one little letter can make, as these words have very different meanings.

Brought is the past tense and past participle of the verb to bring. It has to do with taking or carrying along with.

Bought is the past tense and past participle of the verb to buy. It has to do with purchasing something in an economic sense.