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I have a question about using "keep" with "charging". I've heard people say

keep your laptop off to save energy.

But can you use the structure with "charging"? I am not sure if it can be used like "on/off".

Don't keep it charging overnight to save energy.

Is this how you would use "keep" and "charging"?

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Don't keep it charging is perfectly comprehensible, but it's not exactly how I'd say this.

Don't keep it plugged in overnight, that wastes energy.

This has the same meaning as charging, but I think it's a more common way to say it.

Also note that I changed the comment to say you're wasting energy; the way you've written it it's implied that keeping it charging overnight is what does save energy:

Don't (keep it charging overnight [in order] to save energy)

Obviously that's not what you mean, and everyone would know that, but semantically what you're saying there is "Charging it overnight saves energy. I don't think you should save energy, so don't do that."

If you wanted to use charge, you can, I just wouldn't pair it with keep:

Don't charge your phone overnight; that wastes energy.

(The semicolon here has the same function of clearing up the ambiguity.)

If you want to use saves energy, you could say something like these:

If you don't charge your phone overnight, you'll save energy.

You'll save energy if you don't charge your phone overnight.

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    Most modern charging circuits use switching transformers, and recognise when a battery is fully charged, so it's doubtful they'd waste any meaningful amount of energy if they were left connected unnecessarily. But putting "technical" accuracy aside (and remembering all those crappy nicad batteries I've destroyed by having little-used cordless tools plugged in for months on end), I'd say Don't leave it on charge (to save the valuable battery, not the relatively cheap mains electricity! :). – FumbleFingers Sep 13 '13 at 21:28
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    @Fumble - Using leave instead of keep was my first thought, too (although, in the U.S. we'd probably word it as, "Don't leave it charging"). As a footnote, this doesn't make keep wrong, though. – J.R. Sep 14 '13 at 1:17
  • "Don't keep it plugged in overnight; that wastes energy." is a minor correction. Two complete sentences should be connected with a semicolon. – BobRodes Sep 15 '13 at 20:28
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The use of keep is both sentences is actually the same, and both are acceptable and commonly understood.

The first among the many meanings of keep is to maintain something in a particular state or condition. Whether or not a device is activated (i.e. on or off) can be one of those states, as in your first example, but you can supply any other adjective for the condition that is to be maintained:

Keep your laptop secure.

Keep your laptop updated.

Keep your laptop running.

In your second example, the participle charging indicates the state, so one could say

Keep your laptop charging overnight, to be ready to go in the morning.

Don't keep your laptop charging overnight, to save energy.

(As an aside, in my opinion it is slightly ambiguous to place to save energy at the end as a reader might interpret it as the purpose of "charging" instead of the purpose of "not keeping"; a comma makes the intent more clear by setting the infinitive phrase apart.)

  • Interesting reply, but I bet you got that initial -1 for going off track via the last parenthetical statement. (no, it wasn't me :-P) And to the down voter - why did you do that without explanation ? @choster's answer certainly was on topic, not to mention that he took the time to give lots of examples, and a relevant link, all of which we should encourage ... rarely do I upvote to counteract a downvote as this is considered bad practice, but in this case, I find it good. +1 – Howard Pautz Sep 13 '13 at 21:51
  • I don't think that final paragraph is at all irrelevant to OP's context. After all, it would be perfectly possible for me to say "I don't keep my laptop on charge overnight, wasting energy". And it's at least "just about" possible to say "I don't keep my laptop on charge overnight, saving energy". I don't think including or omitting the comma is a bulletproof disambiguator for those statements. – FumbleFingers Sep 13 '13 at 22:14

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