"If you like it, you can keep it (moustache/beard). You don't really have to shave it."

I'm keeping this moustache.

People in army aren't allowed to keep a moustache/beard. (Idk if this is true though, I guess I read it somewhere. So please correct me if I'm wrong. These sentences are off the top of my head)

Does "keep" work in all the sentences? Like the last one can be "grow a moustache" but then that's "growing it", rather than "growing it" and then deciding not to "shave it". So does the third sentence sound natural?

  • 1
    People in the army. If you don't remove a ponytail, moustache, beard, sideburns, etc, when you could choose to, you can say "I am keeping [whatever]". Sep 26, 2020 at 12:26
  • I think there's a bit of nuance here that others have missed. A moustache, if you grow it on its own, requires a fair bit of maintenance - especially a military-style one. So you would need to "keep" it in the sense of looking after it. Sep 27, 2020 at 11:56

2 Answers 2


Have is probably the most general word you can use, in the sense of the last sentence. It's the state of being bearded (or mustachioed - now that's a good word)

Keep works, but to me it implies a decision is being taken at a point in time - you already have a beard, now do you get rid of it or keep it? Your first two examples carry this sense of "not getting rid of it". Your last example could be read the same way - if you join the army, you might be forced to shave, cut your hair etc., so you don't get to keep it.

If you're talking about the longer term, grow works better than keep, but that also implies you're going from no beard to having one, or a shorter beard to a longer one, rather than just having a consistent beard.

Some militaries (or places of work) are fine with people having and maintaining facial hair of a certain length, but they really don't like when people start to grow one (it takes a while before it starts to look neat), or if they already have an acceptable one but decide to grow it out (so it's bigger/longer)

  • In the UK Royal Navy, a sailor starting to grow a beard is assessed after 2 weeks to see if it going to look any good, and so-called "scrappy" beards are forbidden. All beards must be neat, tidy, and well-trimmed. Sep 26, 2020 at 15:53

"If you like it, you can keep it [the moustache or beard]. You don't really have to shave it."

I'm keeping this moustache.

People in the army aren't allowed to keep a beard or moustache.

These are all correct (once you have corrected "army" to "the army", as pointed out in the comments).

However, for the last one, we would be much more likely to use "have":

People in the army aren't allowed to have a beard or moustache.

"Aren't allowed to grow" is also an option, although as you noted, it is less precise because it wouldn't encompass people who had already grown it before joining the army. But in practice, "grow" would be interpreted by most people as meaning the same as "have", unless people were being pedantic or looking for a loophole.

(Whether or not it's true - which in any case may vary from country to country - is irrelevant to the grammar, anyway.)

  • Moustaches were compulsory in the French Gendarmerie (run by the Defence Ministry) until 1933. Sep 26, 2020 at 15:57
  • In the British armed forces, the Army forbids beards except for religious or medical reasons; from 1st September 2019 the Royal Air Force allowed beards as long as they are neatly trimmed and cover the entire jawline. The Royal Navy has always allowed beards. Sep 26, 2020 at 20:36

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