Main Difference – Keep vs Put
Keep and put can be quite confusing to many English learners since both these verbs can sometimes convey similar meanings. Although keep and put can be used as synonyms in some instances, there is a distinctive difference between keep and put. The main difference between keep and put is that put usually refers to a temporary or short-term action whereas keep refers to a more long-term action.
Keep – Meaning and Usage
The verb keep can have several meanings. In this article, we are looking at the meaning that overlaps with put. Read the example sentences below to understand this meaning better.
We keep the milk in the refrigerator.
Keep these books on the table.
The glasses are kept in the cupboard.
Where do you keep your clothes?
You’ll notice in the above sentences that keep is equivalent to store or place something somewhere. For instance, the first sentence indicates the where milk is stored and the second sentence is a request to place the books on the table. All these sentences indicate customary or long term action. For example, when books are kept on the table, they’ll remain there for some time. Keeping glasses in the cupboard is a customary action since it indicates a habit.
Put – Meaning and Usage
One meaning of put is to place something in a specified position. It is this meaning that often overlaps the above-discussed meaning of keep. First, let’s look at some examples.
Put the book on the table.
Put the toys away.
Where did you put my dress?
I put my keys on the table.
He quickly put the letter inside her bag.
In all these sentences, put refers to a temporary or short-term action. You can also note that none of these actions are customary actions.
Although the above-mentioned distinction exists between put and keep, these two verbs are interchangeable in some of these sentences. For example,
I put my keys on the table. → I kept my keys on the table.
Where did you put my books? → Where did you keep my books?
Difference Between Keep and Put
Keep is similar to store or place.
Put is similar to place, set or lay.
Keep is used for long term or customary actions.
Put is used for short term, non-customary actions.
Past Tense and Past Participle
The past tense and past particle of keep is kept.
The past tense and past particle of put is put.
“Stack of books on table”By Leon Brooks – (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
“Colin’s Fridge and the Three Milks” by alisdair (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr