keep off the grass; keep off the rain

Discussion in 'English Only' started by stephenlearner, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. stephenlearner Senior Member


    Is the usage of "keep off" correct in the first and third sentence, and incorrect in the second sentence?

    A sign says, "Please keep off the grass."

    The umbrella keeps off the rain.

    The umbrella keeps the rain off.

    In my opinion, the umbrella keeps the rain off means it keeps the rain off (people).

    If the umbrella keeps off the rain is correct, that would mean "keep off" is a fixed phrase.

    But in the first sentence "please keep off the grass", I don't think keep off is a fixed phrase.

    What do you think?

  2. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    'Keep off' is a particle verb (phrasal verb) when it refers to protecting: 'keep' takes one complement 'off' and another one, the object 'the rain'. The two can come in either order. But in the first sentence 'keep' means "stay", and it takes a single complement, the location 'off the grass'. There is no alternative order :cross:'Keep the grass off' (not in that meaning, anyway).
  3. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    In "please keep off the grass"
    1. keep = remain, e.g. please keep/remain quiet
    2. Off (preposition) = from, e.g. The apple fell off/from the tree.

    In "The umbrella keeps off the rain." =
    1. keep off = to hinder (the approach of something or someone), e.g. "He had an injection to keep off the 'flu."; "He fired his gun to keep off the bear."
    2. Off (adverb) = away
  4. C.S.Hy

    C.S.Hy Member

    Mandarin Chinese
  5. stephenlearner Senior Member

    Thank you very much for your answer.

    In "the umbrella keeps the rain off", does it mean "the umbrella keeps the rain off (people)"?
  6. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    More or less: You can put any noun after "off". The context will tell you who the rain is kept off. (Also, if you add a complement to the sentence, the the grammar changes.)

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