Is there a reason why we don't normally put a possessive pronoun before the word 'mind' in some phrases?

For example, it is not used in the phrases

  • come to mind
  • keep in mind

but it is used in some others such as

  • on my mind
  • slipped my mind

I also found an example in a book where it was omitted even in a non-idiomatic expression:

A good analysis might turn the threats into stories so they stay close to mind as software is being written or reviewed.

  • "keep in my mind" about 19,200 results ??? Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 17:10
  • Yes, there is some occasional usage, but I don't think that is the typical way the expression is used. Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 17:33
  • The example isn't so good, but the first two are often not individual specific. For example, a teacher could tell a room full of students "Keep in mind that...", referring to their minds, not the teacher's mind. You should add examples for the phrases in question.
    – user3169
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 18:38

1 Answer 1


In the examples you give without a pronoun, the possession is implied; there is only one mind that the subject of the clause can keep anything in, or have anything come to. There is also the possibility of usage where the statement refers to minds in general, and uses "mind" without a possessive pronoun to indicate that it is true of any mind, as in "A mind all logic is like a knife all blade."

edit: in response to user3738870's comment: I admit I do not know of any specific grammar rule dictating when it can and cannot be implied. My only theory is that, as you implied, all the phrases where it is implied are somewhat idiomatic; they are common phrases whose meaning is not perfectly clear from the meaning of the individual rules (I would consider your third example to be an idiom as well, although a less common one). Phrases like this often follow outdated rules or break the rules entirely; I assume this is the reason it is only natural in specific circumstances.

  • 1
    I totally agree with the second possibility you mentioned, and in fact, my question was not meant to be concerned with such usages, but specifically with the phrases I mentioned. So as you say, it is implied, but then why it is not/cannot be implied in the other phrases? What is the difference? Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 22:25
  • I have added my thoughts on this to the answer; sorry I can't completely address the question. Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 0:39
  • Yes, but it still gave me somewhat of an explanation, so thank you for your contribution. Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 9:52

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