When I play with my toddler, I often see him put his finger in his mouth & stick his tongue out.

So, I say "don't put your finger in your mouth" & "don't stick your tongue out of your mouth".

I may want to say "put your finger out of your mouth" & "stick your tongue in your mouth".

But it seems people prefer to say "keep your finger out of your mouth" & "keep your tongue in your mouth". They seem to use keep rather than "put" & "stick".

What are the opposites of "put the finger in your mouth" & "stick your tongue out"?

1 Answer 1


If you keep out (i.e., stay out) your condition is opposite to your condition when staying in.

However keeping something in is the opposite of keeping something out.

The difference is whether you are acting on yourself.

You could say

Put your finger out of your mouth.

A better alternative would be

Take your finger out of your mouth.

The word take may be seen as collaborative or neutral, with put hinting at more of an adversarial or passive role for the object of the verb.

For example, you may put out a dog or cat that needs to be outside the house.

On the other hand you might take a guest out to see a local attraction.

Alternatively, take could be thought of as having a leading, directing, pulling or inducing element to its meaning.

If put has a sense closer to mere placement then take could be a better choice for advising or commanding your little one to lead or draw his finger back out to a better place for himself.

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