Imagine a person who is part of a discussion changes the focus by starting a train of thought considered irrelevant and in this manner deviates the route of the discussion into other / irrelevant subjects or tangential comments. You want to ask them to focus on the point of the discussion and restrict their comments to the point at hand.

Bringing up this question I am going to find the closest verb which can be used when you want to ask someone not to "deviate" the topic at hand.

Note: I do not need any idiom. I need a natural verb for the case meaning "deviate". [I don't know whether the verb "deviate" works here by itself or not.]

I found the verbs bellow. Please let me know which one in natural in this sense and of they both mean something else, then please tell me what is the most natural one:

  • Please don't deviate the subject of the discussion.

  • Please don't wander away the subject of the discussion.

  • Please don't wander off the subject of the discussion.

  • 1
    All 3 of those sentences work and are fairly natural (although I think my answer to your similar question would still be the most natural, here), however you need to add the word from. "Please don't deviate from the subject of the discussion."
    – CornSmith
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 21:32
  • You said it. "Let's focus on the subject of this discussion. Using this helps imply the importance of the discussion.
    – user3169
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 22:22

3 Answers 3


To make your three sentences more idiomatic, when one deviates, one deviates from something

Please don't deviate from the subject/topic of discussion.
Please don't wander off topic.
Please don't wander away from the topic of discussion.

"Off topic" is an idiom, the second sentence is saying you don't want the speaker to wonder in that direction

A more imperative way of saying it is

Please try to stay on topic.


I wouldn't use the phrase "please don't" at all because it sounds negative and critical.

Correct verbs are focus, stay (on target), return (to the agenda), apply (oneself) or concentrate. However, I often use phrases like

  • That is certainly interesting, you can take that offline
  • Okay, well good point, now where are we on the agenda?
  • Thank you for raising that but we are pressed for time so let us return to the current topic
  • Good point, I will take note of that now if we could return to topic
  • Time is short so I'd like to please stick to the agenda
  • That is interesting for several reasons, however I'm looking for something to take the discussion forward

People lose focus for a reason, maybe their train of thought is relevant, maybe they have a risk that has not been highlighted or addressed. By using phrases like "Please don't deviate" you are trivializing their points and likely putting them down in public. Therefore they will be less inclined to re-focus on your discussion even after you have asked.

So listening to their concerns, commenting or asking them to 'take it offline' will allow you the control of the situation such that when you say "let us now return to the intended topic of discussion", you are likely to have gained the co-operation of everyone involved.


... the closest verb which can be used when you want to ask someone not to "deviate" the topic at hand.


Don't change the subject.


Can we stick to the subject?

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