When someone is talking a lot and I want that person to stop talking, can I use:

Please keep/be quiet.

Why am I confused? Because someone told me that "keep quiet" is used to ask someone to remain quiet while they still are, that is, continue that state to "remaining quiet". So is the use of "keep quiet" natural to ask them to stop talking?

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    Someone told you wrong. It's perfectly natural (though usually a bit impolite) to say Please keep quiet! regardless of whether the addressee is currently making any noise or not. But exactly the same applies to Please be quiet!, so you can just choose whichever you like. Jan 29, 2019 at 16:00
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    @BerkerYüceer: Yeah - Keep it quite! and Keep it down! are both common expressions for the "teacher + unruly class" context. Including the word "it" there (which you could interpret as referring to "the noise, the volume", but we might call it a "non-referential" usage like It's raining) is at least slightly "colloquial". I wouldn't be surprised to hear a British judge say "Please keep quiet" to members of the public in the gallery during a trial, but I would be a bit surprised if he included "it" there. Oct 27, 2020 at 17:35
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    @BerkerYüceer: I never mentioned Quiet down! (and there is no imperative Quite down!). I'm not sure, but I think idiomatic (but "syntactically invalid") Quiet down! would have derived from [You] Quieten down! But I wouldn't spend any time on that one if I were you. Just note that Keep it quite! and Keep it down! are equivalent, interchangeable, and always informal, whereas Keep quiet! without "it" might occur in a more formal context. Oct 27, 2020 at 17:57
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    ...Also note another usage. If you've just told someone something in confidence, you might say Keep it quiet! with the meaning Keep it a secret. Don't talk about it with other people. Oct 27, 2020 at 18:01
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    @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica I see what you mean now! "Keep down!" is not referring to anything and makes no sense without "it" and thank you for the other usages of things being kept in a way we like. Oct 27, 2020 at 18:05

2 Answers 2


Whoever told you that "Keep quiet!: means "remain silent!" while "Be quiet!" means "Become silent" was mistaken. These are idioms, and they are used interchangeably. Each means "Become and remain silent!" Adding a "please" does not change the meaning significantly, but makes it more polite. (Depending on the tone of voice used, adding "please" can actually make these more emphatic.)

The related "Keep it down" (mentioned in the comments) suggests reducing the noise level, but not all the way to silence. Otherwise, it has about the same meaning, and a "please" can also be added here.

(By the way "keep down!", also mentioned in comments, has nothing to do with noise. It is a command to crouch or lie flat so as to avoid danger from explosions or gunfire.)

"Shut up!" means to stop talking, and is most often addressed to an individual, not a group. It is perhaps even less polite than "Be Quiet!"

"Less noise please" is more moderate and more polite. "Could we have some quiet, please?" aims at silence, but is more polite than "Be quiet!" There are various other command with very similar meanings, such as "Silence!", "Quiet!", "Not a sound!", and "Shhhh!".


In this context, the word "keep" does not mean "continue to" but "adhere to."

We would also say "keep watch" or "keep the faith." In all three of these examples, what the person is (or was) doing is not considered. It's a command that, regardless of the case, the person should do something.


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