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The word "keep" has many different meanings when used as a verb:

simple past past participle

1. To store or preserve the safety of something for a short time or a long time:

  • Where do you keep your socks?
  • She kept her keys in her purse.
  • Pictures of our family are kept in photo albums.
  • It’s a good idea to keep your car in a garage.
  • He keeps his money in a piggy bank.

piggy bank

2. To promise not to say something:

  • Can you keep a secret?
  • Let’s keep this between ourselves.
  • He’s keeping his mouth shut about this.
  • She can’t keep quiet about anything.

3. To honor one’s obligations:

  • You have to keep your promise.
  • Tony is good about keeping his commitments.
  • She kept her word.

4. To prevent someone from doing something:

  • The sign says "Keep off the grass."
  • The judge kept the man from speaking.
  • The police kept us from coming closer to the house that was on fire.
  • She can’t keep herself from smoking.

5. To maintain something:

  • He keeps a journal and writes in it daily.
  • They keep a busy schedule.
  • Bob does a good job of keeping up on his house.

6. To maintain the same speed or effort:

  • You’re walking too fast. I can’t keep up with you.
  • Glenda is having a hard time keeping up with her homework.
  • He can’t keep up with the other students.
  • The horse that finished last wasn’t able to keep up the pace set by the other horses.

7. To continue:

  • Savannah keeps working even though she hates her job.
  • You have to keep studying. Don’t stop.
  • The kids kept talking even though their teacher told them to stop.
  • To keep your car running you have to take care of it.

Common expressions:

  • Keep your mouth shut. (Don’t say anything)
  • Keep it under your hat. (Don’t say anything.)
  • Keep going. (Continue onward)
  • Keep the faith. (Believe in this.)
  • Keep back. (Don’t come close. There’s danger.)
  • Keep at it. (Don’t stop)
  • Keep away. (Stay away.)
  • Keep on keeping on. (Continue.)
  • Keep up the good work. (Continue doing what you’ve been doing.)

Sometimes this word is used as a noun:

  • He earns his keep as a bartender. (He makes enough money to take care of himself.)
  • Is this for keeps? (Can I have this permanently?)
  • Finders keepers losers weepers. (If you lose something, that’s too bad. Whoever finds it can have it.)

To learn more about using "keep" as a verb, click here.

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July 12, 2013



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