1

The verbal phrase keep from V-ing means to prevent the action of V from happening. Does keep require a direct object? And if that object is the first person pronoun, must that pronoun be reflexive?

[1a] With open arms I reach for the boundless sky and look up at the moon to keep from crying. (no direct object)
[1b] With open arms I reach for the boundless sky and look up at the moon to keep me from crying. (objective case)
[1c] With open arms I reach for the boundless sky and look up at the moon to keep myself from crying. (reflexive)

  • Hi Adelin, welcome to English Language & Usage (EL&U), which is "a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts". The kind of question you've asked (as now edited) would be more suited to our sister site, English Language Learners; it provides a "library of detailed answers to every question about learning the English language." – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Sep 10 '16 at 23:12
1

Instead of the grammatical issues (since all three versions convey essentially the same message) I'd observe that from the point of view of this subjective listener:

1a is implicitly interpreted (at least by me) to contain 'myself' and is thus semantically equivalent to the reflexive 1c. You could use either interchangeably but might prefer 1a in poetry to fit the rhythm better or just because you prefer the sound of it.

1b sounds strange. What is the external force keeping 'me' rather than 'myself' from crying? The moon? Am I imploring the moon to prevent my tears? Of course from a literary perspective that ambiguity might be the whole purpose of the choice of words and the use of transitive rather than reflexive 'keep'.

| improve this answer | |
0

Keep X from Y means to accept responsibility for ensuring X does not do Y (Y will be an -ing word in that case) or ensuring X does not obtain, become, go near, or get Y.

If X is not specified it's meant reflexively.

Keep John from telling Sally anything about Mark. (Prevent John from telling Sally)

Keep from telling Sally anything about Mark = Keep yourself from telling Sally anything about Mark. (Prevent yourself from telling Sally)

| improve this answer | |
0

Does keep require a direct object?

No. Look at the definition of keep : It can be transitive (takes an indirect and/or direct object), or it can be intransitive, requiring no object.

1a. ...reach...and...look...to keep from crying. In this sentence the adverb infinitive phrase, though all the way at the end of the sentence, is modifying the Compound Verb, reach and look. It answers "Why?" Why do you reach and look for the sky? To keep from crying. The adverb infinitive phrase is constructed with the marker "to" the infinitive keep (intransitive) and an adverb prepositional phrase "from crying" (keep from What? Crying). The word "crying" is the noun gerund and object of the preposition "from."

And if that object is the first person pronoun, must that pronoun be reflexive?

No.

In the other two sentences, the direct object can be either me or myself. You would prefer myself for emphasis, since your emotionally charged sentence is all about you and whatever it is that makes you want to cry.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.