The robbers guarded/watched the hostages extra attentively/carefully/closely/observantly/alertly to make sure that they would stay quiet till the police officers had left.

Which word fits the context better? I don't want it to sound like the robbers do it to protect the hostages.

  • 1
    Which words do you think fit best in this context, and why? We expect you to put in some effort before you ask us. – Ronald Sole Jul 26 '20 at 15:07
  • @RonaldSole is right. I was being very generous by doing a lot of the work for you in my answer because you are new here. So welcome to ell.stackexchange, and next time try to give more information in your questions. Detailed questions will receive faster and more accurate answers. – Jay A. Little Jul 26 '20 at 15:16

Firstly, for the choice between "guard" or "watch":


2a: to protect from danger especially by watchful attention : make secure

So if you use this, then it definitely sounds like the robbers are protecting the hostages from some other danger. Therefore "watch" is a better word choice.

The second choice of words really depends on what you want to communicate. Here is how these words would be interpreted if you chose them:



To "watch attentively" communicates attention highly focused on the hostages. This is clear, simple, and does not give hint to how the robbers feel.


1a: marked by wary caution or prudence
1b: marked by attentive concern and solicitude
1c: marked by painstaking effort to avoid errors or omissions —often used with of or an infinitive

The key words here are "concern", "caution", and "avoid errors" so the word "careful" carries an understanding of fear. So if robbers are "watching carefully", then it communicates a strong sense of fear in the robbers' minds.


4a: very precise and attentive to details

This has the closest meaning to "attentive" and can be used for a younger audience. But "attentive" is in a higher level of vocabulary, making it a better choice of the two. Like attentive, this does not carry any extra meaning.


1a: paying strict attention : WATCHFUL

The problem with this word is that "watch" is already understood as a part of the meaning. So to "watch observantly" is needlessly repeating the idea of "watching". It sounds almost as bad as "to watch watchfully".


1a: watchful and prompt to meet danger or emergency

Similar to "carefully", this word carries more meaning than simply highly focused. To "watch alertly" conveys that the robbers have been made aware of a danger and have sharpened their attention because of it.

  • Thank you. I appreciate it. – user118784 Jul 26 '20 at 15:28

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