Please imagine you want to alarm someone about a dangerous dog; you can say:

  • Keep an eye on that dog.

Or when you as an agent are taking a prisoner from a jail to prison. You want to go to the toilette for a minute and you outsource your duty to your co-worker while you're away. You would probably say something like:

  • Keep an eye on the prisoner.

But is it possible for a mother to ask her kids father to take care of their kids while she is going to do something for a short period of the time (e.g. 10 minutes)? I mean:

  • Keep an eye on the kids.
  • 1
    Unless I am mistaken, you are using the word alarm incorrectly in the first line of your question. If you want to frighten somebody, this is the correct word. If you want to advise somebody about a potential problem, the words alert or warn would be better.
    – JavaLatte
    Dec 28, 2016 at 11:31
  • Yes @JavaLatte. Agreed. ;)
    – A-friend
    Dec 28, 2016 at 14:28

1 Answer 1


Yes, absolutely, the idiom

keep an eye on
keep an eye on = look after

can be used for looking after children and other things.

Sorry I can't meet for a coffee, I need to keep an eye on the kids.
She asked her husband to keep an eye on the kids when she was at work on the weekend.

I can't leave at the moment, I need to keep an eye on this turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.

In your dog example, if the watcher can currently see the dog, then

Keep an eye on the dog.

is correct. If, however, the watcher needs to keep looking for the dog and can not currently see it, then

Keep an eye out for the dog.

is appropriate.

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