I wonder how a native would ask if someone could e.g. lift a baby out of a chair. First, I had the followings in mind (probably influenced by my own native language which is German):

  • Could you get him out (of the chair)?
  • Could you get him out (of the chair)?

Also, when about going out one has to carry the kid downstairs, how to phrase this?

  • Could you take him down (sounds like football..)?
  • Could you take him out (I'm quite sure this is like ending someones life..)?

How to phrase these sentences reasonably and properly?

1 Answer 1


Your first example sounds fine. Nothing unusual about it.

Could you get him out of the chair?

You really need to qualify what you are getting him out of (ie the chair) unless the context makes it clear. However, it may not be the most idiomatic way to request this - as a native British English speaker, I'd probably say "can you pick him up?", which also has the advantage that you don't need to mention what or where you are picking him up from.

It's always about the context. If someone asked me to pick up a baby, I'd want to know what they want me to do next. Do they want me to hold him until I get further instructions? Or just get him out and put him on the floor? However, if a child was in the bath and I was asked "can you get him out?" that would probably be understood without the need to explain that it is the bath I am getting him out of. Also, as bathtime is part of a routine, a competent parent or carer would know what the next step is without additional instruction. Context is everything.

You're right that "take him down" and "take him out" have other meanings, but those are euphemisms. Euphemisms only work if the context is clear - that's the whole point of them. Nobody is likely to confuse a request to "take him out" as a request to kill someone, unless you're Al Capone. In British English, we usually say "upstairs" and "downstairs" (ie "can you bring him downstairs?") although 'up' and 'down' are also fine providing the context is clear.

  • Thanks a lot! Bringing downstairs makes sense, this is I was looking for. And what about to take him down? Is this appropriate or rather strange?
    – Ben
    May 16, 2022 at 8:11
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    @Ben I should add that "bring" and "take" depend on the perspective of the speaker. You bring something to someone, and you take something away. So if the speaker was upstairs and you were downstairs, they'd say "bring". "Take him down" sounds fine in context.
    – Astralbee
    May 16, 2022 at 8:21
  • Interesting and good to know. Thank you!
    – Ben
    May 16, 2022 at 8:59
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    @Ben - Native speakers tend to assume the most usual meaning when processing idiomatic expressions. For example, we can use 'put down' to mean 'kill a sick pet or farm animal' but (at least in the UK) we can also say we 'put down' a baby when it is tired and either asleep or ready to sleep. No sane person supposes that 'put down the baby' means 'slaughter the baby'. May 16, 2022 at 9:55
  • @MichaelHarvey Quite. This is what I covered with 'euphemistic' meanings in the last paragraph. Euphemisms by definition are not the common meaning. Euphemisms are recognised because they are out of context. Even then, they are debatable - a famous miscarriage of justice in English law hinged on the perceived euphemistic meaning of "let them have it".
    – Astralbee
    May 16, 2022 at 10:25

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