Are both "Always watch the kids out" and "Always watch out for the kids" grammatically correct?

If so, is there one more frequent than the other?

I feel like the first is not correct.

  • Hello DevMoutarde. Please include the research you’ve done, or consider if your question suits our English Language Learners site better. Could you tell us why you think what you do? – marcellothearcane Oct 1 '19 at 13:25
  • Hello, why do I think what I do ? What do you mean ? ahah But yeah actually I think its suits LanguageLearners better, haven't thought of it, could you transfer my question to that forum please ? – DevMoutarde Oct 1 '19 at 13:47
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    Sure! I'll raise a flag for our benevolent mods to help out. – marcellothearcane Oct 1 '19 at 13:50
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    Marcello means "Why do you think your first example is not correct?" It isn't, because watch out doesn't take a direct object. You watch out for something, either danger or (in this case) someone who needs protection. – Kate Bunting Oct 1 '19 at 13:53
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    There is a meaning for "Watch the kids out" but it's meaning is different from "Watch out for the kids". It would be an instruction to someone to watch the children to make sure that they left the building they were in. It is similar to "See the kids out" which means to accompany the children as they leave the building but would mean that the instructed person was not to accompany the children, mearly to monitor their progress. – BoldBen Oct 1 '19 at 18:45

The two suggested sentences:

  1. Always watch the kids out
  2. Always watch out for the kids.

do not convey the same meaning. Sentence 1 may be technically valid grammatically, but it is sufficiently unusual that most fluent speakers would simply think it was an error. Sentence 2 is valid and normal, but also ambiguous.

Sentence 2 would most likely mean: "Always be alert for the kids, watch to see that they do not cause a problem." This is related to the meaning of "watch out" in a sentence such as "watch out for speeding cars at this intersection." The speaker is telling the listener to "watch out" for something that might be dangerous, or a problem.

However, sentence 2 could also mean "Always be alert on behalf of the kids; watch out for anything that might harm or bother them." This is also a plausible meaning. Heere "watch out for" means something like 'watch over", that is, "be an alert and attentive guardian of".

This ambiguity is inherent in the use of the phrasal verb "watch out for". It can only be avoided by giving additional context which makes it clear which meaning is intended.

As for sentence 1, as suggested in the comment by user BoldBen, it could mean "watch the kids as they go out [of this building, or this place]." That is the only plausible meaning of 1 as written. However, that is a sufficiently unusual construction that it seems more likely that 1 is an error for 2.

When "watch out" means "be alert", it is not normally split by other words, and it does not take a direct object ("Watch out X" -- wrong). It may take no object at all ("Watch out!") or it may take an indirect object with "for" ("Watch out for X").

  • thanks alot, makes total sense and its clear now for me :) – DevMoutarde Oct 2 '19 at 9:57

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