I found a expression: "Keep out of each other's hair".

Is it wrong if I say without "of"? I mean, is "Keep out each other's hair" is correct sentence?


Yeah, you need that of. Your version is basically wrong.

Technically, I think your version is grammatical, but it means something very different, something people don't say very often:

Alice: Okay, let's go in the pool!
Bob: Sure! But wait, the pool's full of bleach!
Alice: Bleach?
Bob: Yeah! And you don't want that on your hair!
Alice: And we do want it on our skin?
Bob: Never mind that! The important thing is not to get it on our hair!
Alice: And as you know, Bob, we're forbidden from touching our own hair by religious mandate!
Bob: That's right, so I'll keep your hair out of the pool, and you keep mine out of it!
Alice: So we'll both keep out each other's hair?
Bob: That's right!

That's the closest I can come to making sense of it.

In other words, if you remove of, it would no longer be the idiomatic expression you learned, and it'd be a stretch to come up with a context where it'd be possible to say.

So don't remove that of. You need it!

  • 2
    In addition to snailboat's great answer (and hilarious!), I'd like to add the definitions of keep out and keep out of given by Macmillan Dictionary: keep out "prevent someone or something from entering a place"; keep out of "to not become involved with something". May 19 '15 at 7:17
  • 2
    And the prize for most contrived but completely accurate example in a situation where it seems that there are no natural examples goes to... *drumroll* :-) May 19 '15 at 9:53
  • 2
    @DamkerngT. Actually, I think you should add that as an answer: adding the definition of both phrases definitely contributes. May 19 '15 at 9:55

Dropping the of, like dropping that, is colloquially acceptable in some places.

However, in the main, it is a part of the sentence. To be formal, and to be unambiguous (see snailboat's answer), you should keep it.

  • As a British English speaker, I notice that dropping the 'of' is something some US English speakers (that I have no reason to believe are particularly ungrammatical) do.
    – abligh
    May 19 '15 at 12:27
  • It's kind of a regional thing in the US. In my experience they drop "of" in the southeast quite a bit. At least in Louisiana and Alabama.
    – Jake
    May 19 '15 at 12:46

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .