I have been watching some videos on YouTube in order to improve my listening skills. But, at some point, I found myself struggling with the sentence below:

We have the refrigerator or the fridge, where you can keep food cold.

Why is the adjective placed after the noun "food"? I know the rules about postpositive and prepositive adjectives, but I still don't get it right. "Cold food" sounds pretty much better to my ears, which is the attributive form.

Does the sentence below function the same way as the first one?

I need to keep my car warm

2 Answers 2


The verb "keep" can have a predicative adjective following its object. Only a few verbs have this pattern: "make" and "keep" are the usual examples:

The card made him happy

The job kept him busy.

I need to keep my car warm.

There is the verb [to keep] an object [my car] and a predictive adjective [warm]. The adjective links to the verb (keep) not the noun.

The meaning is causative.

I need to cause my car to keep warm.

Predicative adjectives are more common for intransitive verbs

He seems happy.

He looks busy.

  • +1, and to add the meaning if "keep food cold" is "maintain the low temperature of food"
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 20:20
  • Ok, I got it about the predicative adjective part. But I still don't understand the "food cold" used in the sentence above. I think I still struggling because there is a subject in the given examples.
    – Vinycius
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 20:22
  • 1
    @Vinycius It's part of the structure: "keep" + noun + adjective, which means "makes sure the noun stays adjective", in this case, "makes sure the food stays cold". "Food cold" isn't a phrase on its own. "Food" is the object of "keep", not "food cold".
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 20:28
  • @gotube, so it is like there is "stays" implied between "food" and "cold", due to the usage of "keep"?
    – Vinycius
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 21:00
  • @Vinycius Maybe. Nothing is implied. "Keep" means "make X stay". Is that what you are asking?
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 23:21

Both the sentence with "keep food cold" and with "keep cold food" are natural English and good grammar, but they have different meanings.

James K's answer covers the structure of the original sentence.

I'll explain the other version:

We have the refrigerator or the fridge, where you can keep cold food.

Here, "cold food" means "food that is cold", which we understand from the context to mean, "food that is normally stored in temperatures just above freezing". This would contrast with:

We have the cupboard, where you can keep non-refrigerated food.

  • Please, could you explain the first version as well? Thank you in advance.
    – Vinycius
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 21:04
  • 1
    Keep cold food = store food that is cold (not hot). Keep food cold = maintain food at a low temperature. Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 7:58
  • @KateBunting, so, if we were to apply the same logic in my second example, would it work as well? keep my car warm = maintain the temperature in it. keep my warm car = sort of not selling it.
    – Vinycius
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 23:07
  • Yes, although we don't usually refer to a warm car in the same way as a warm coat! Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 7:27
  • Sure, that is what I thought. I just used it in that way so the example could work. Thanks!
    – Vinycius
    Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 14:08

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