1. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    keep quite or be quite?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by ohmyrichard, Jan 3, 2009.

    Happy New Year,everyone. I would like you to do me a favour and help me with the following sentence:

    We talked loudly until Miss Green told us to keep quiet/ be quiet.

    My question is about the underlined part of the sentence. Will either "keep quiet" or "be quite" do in this situation? I've checked my Longman dictionary and it tells me that "Quiet!" or "Be quiet!" is used to tell someone, rather rudely, to stop talking or making noise." and that"keep quiet" means "to not say anything, because you do not know anything or because you do not want to tell a secret." On the margin of that page in the dictionary, there is a comment I made perhaps a long time ago, which goes, "From the subtitles of the film Africa Screams, I have noticed that 'Keep quiet!' may be used as an imperative, meaning 'Don't talk any more.' or 'Don't interrupt me! Let me go on!' " But now I can only vaguely remember that the film Africa Screams is an old black and white film and nothing else about it.

    Back to the sentence under discussion, "keep quiet" or "be quiet" is a part of the sentence, rather than a complete sentence. Please tell me whether they both can be used in this situation?

    Thanks!
     
  2. M9A8E6S4TO
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    M9A8E6S4TO Senior Member

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    They can both be used. I'm fond of "keep quiet" :).
     
  3. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Technically, I would opt for "...be quiet" because "keep" implies a continuation of an action. In this sentence, the action is "talked loudly" and there is a desire to stop this action, hence "keep" doesn't fit while "be quiet" properly instructs to stop the original action.

    In colloquial application, either expression can be used as they are often interchanged. Or you could change the sentence to remove any ambiguity..."We talked loudly until Miss Green told us to shut up." LOL
     
  4. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks for your explanation, NaCl. In my opinion, with the version ..."We talked loudly until Miss Green told us to shut up." ambiguity is removed but "shut up" is an impolite request or phrase. I see you also laughed.
    Thanks again.
    Wishing you a very happy and prosperous new year.
    Richard
     
  5. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks, Maestro. Happy New Year to you!
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what you need to consider here is what that character would say, not what any of us would!
     
  7. Benska
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    Benska Member

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    I would opt for "Be quiet", also. "Keep quiet" to me seems to be a request; one person asking another to stop speaking. Whereas "be quiet" seems like an order; one person telling another to cease speaking.

    Though "Keep quiet," as NaCI stated, could definately imply continuation. But not always. Relativity defines the use of these phrases; it all depends on the situation(in your example, if the teacher had previously asked the to "be quiet" politely numerous times and they had simply ignored her, saying "shut up" would be perfectly acceptable), and, as mammamaia mentioned, the character whom is speaking, also the character being spoken to comes into play(The character may habitually use "shut up" to ask someone to be quiet, but if they were talking to someone they highly respected, or were looking to make a good first impression, for exapmle, they would most likely use something more polite,) and even the author's preference.

    I could go on rambling, but I have already over-complicated this. For the most part it will just come naturally, but hopefully I have provided you with some insight =].

    ~Ben
     
  8. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Hi,Ben.
    You did not overcomplicate the issue. Thanks for your detailed explanation, which does enables me to get a thorough understanding of the two phrases and provide me with an insight into how we make languae work for us.
    Thanks again.
    Richard
     
  9. Doodstormer
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    Doodstormer New Member

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    I guess it would depend on the character saying it. A gruff sergeant type would probably go with "be quiet!" while a more polite, well-mannered character would probably use "keep quiet".
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    exactly my point, dood!... now that you've extrapolated it, perhaps it will be considered...

    grateful hugs, m
     
  11. Sunset Sailor
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    Sunset Sailor Member

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    I think Americans would be more likely to say "be quiet" rather than "keep quiet".

    Also, it would depend on the age of the speaker. Younger would go with be rather than keep.

    If you are Southern, like me, you would just say, "Shush y'all!" ;)
     

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