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  1. Put the toys in their right place.
  2. Put the toys in their right places.
  3. Put the toys in place.

Which version is correct? Do these have different meanings regarding toys? If so, how are they different?

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These could all be "correct", but there are nuances of meaning.

  • Put the toys in their right place. (All the toys belong together, in the same place.)

  • Put the toys in their right places. (Each toy has its own "right place", but not all of them belong in the same place.)

  • Put the toys in place. (the placement may be at the child's choosing. This is vague as to whether they are preparing to play with the toys, or finished playing. )

However, none of these is very common in colloquial AmE. More likely, you would hear something like this, in short [or longer] form:

  • Put the toys away [when you are done] (the phrasal verb put x away means to stow them in their "usual" storage location. . . which is out of the way, not in the way.)

  • Put the toys back [where you found them/where they belong] [when you are done].
    (also a phrasal verb put x back)

Either of these conveys the same intention—you want the child to put each toy where it respectively belongs—whether all toys belong together in one place, or in various places.

. . . Getting a two- or three-year-old to actually understand and comply is a separate problem—you will probably have to show them what you mean, no matter how clearly you phrased the request/command (!)

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  • ... and how to get the child to do this would belong on Parenting SE ^_^
    – Stephie
    Jul 27, 2015 at 8:22

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