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When referring to "to not go near a particular person or place", can "stay away from" and "keep away from" be interchangeable? e.g. I want you to stay away from my daughter. I want you to keep away from my daughter.

While "far away" means a long distance away, mainly used to talking about two places that are not near each other. Am I right?

"Stay away from" and "keep away from" describes an action of "not going near " while "far away" describes a state.

Am I right?

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  • "stay away from" and "keep away from" contain verbs (stay, keep), while "far away" contains no verbs. You can add a a verb to it: "stay far away from my daughter". – CowperKettle Jan 3 '16 at 6:32
  • @CopperKettle Do you mean the three phrases"stay away from", "keep away from" and "stay far away from" can be interchangeable? – August Jan 3 '16 at 6:37
  • From the grammar standpoint, they are all okay. Their general meaning is similar, but I'm not a native speaker of English to judge about shades of meaning. There might be some differences. – CowperKettle Jan 3 '16 at 6:40
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In general you are correct that stay away and keep away can be used interchangeably without loss of understanding, meaning don't go near. Stay away seems more AmE while keep away seems more BrE.

One way of thinking about the distances is to see usage of the keywords in other related phrases. As an native AmE speaker, my thinking behind my sense of the differences in distances involved is

far from is the most distance, as it is indeterminate

far from us, another civilisation may exist
keep far away is further away than keep away

keep away is the closest, keep also has the meaning of possession which can imply things being at-hand or within reach

keep clear of the moving train
keep to yourself

stay away is somewhere in-between and possibly inclusive of far away's distance

He pointed and said "stay over there".

One would never say keep over there, thereby giving stay a farther meaning.

Stay far away and keep far away are interchangeable for me since the distances inherit the magnitude of far

For stay away, keep away, and far away the quantities involved are not as easily defined as the other descriptive adjectives a few, some, or several

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