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keep out of: meaning and explanation

to keep out of something = to not get involved in something, such as an argument or a fight. e.g. I always try to keep out of arguments when I’m visiting my parents. It isn’t always easy though.

to keep someone out of something is used when talking about someone preventing someone else from becoming involved in something. e.g. As a parent, I always do my best to keep my children out of trouble.

It can be useful to use this phrasal verb in a very direct way. ‘Keep out of it!” is what you might say (if you were angry!) to someone who is trying to become involved in a private conversation.

‘Keep me out of it’ is what you might say to someone who is trying to involve you in an argument, maybe by asking you to take a side.

This phrasal verb can also be used to mean that you do not include something in a discussion, debate or argument. e.g. Let’s be professional and keep our personal lives out of this.

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Micro-listening #1

Accent: Ireland

You'd out – you don’t make .

About the sentence

…You’d better keep out of it

Had better is an important structure that is used to give strong, almost threatening advice. The idea is that if you don’t do this thing, something bad might happen. e.g. We’d better go to bed soon (= if we don’t, then we’ll be tired in the morning).

Micro-listening #2

Accent: Scotland

Micro-listening #3

Accent: North America


Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • Have you ever got involved in an argument and regretted it?
  • When you were growing up, did you manage to keep out of trouble?
  • Have you ever had to tell anyone to “keep out of it”?

Photo by Fred Mouniguet on Unsplash

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