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    #1

    'secret' or 'a secret'

    Teachers,

    Please keep it secret.
    Please keep it a secret.

    Are there any differences in meaning between these two?
    And if you want to use in place of 'Don't tell it to anyone.' or 'Keep it to your self.' , which would you use?

    Thank you for your advice.

  1. engee30's Avatar
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    #2

    Smile Re: 'secret' or 'a secret'

    Quote Originally Posted by jibou View Post
    Teachers,

    Please keep it secret.
    Please keep it a secret.

    Are there any differences in meaning between these two?
    And if you want to use in place of 'Don't tell it to anyone.' or 'Keep it to your self.' , which would you use?

    Thank you for your advice.
    Please keep it secret [secret is an adjective; object complement]
    Please keep it a secret [secret is a noun; object complement]

    Keepi it to yourself/yourselves is roughly speaking the same as the two above.

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    #3

    Re: 'secret' or 'a secret'

    The two phrases have exactly the same meaning -- the one you have suggested.


    As I'm sure you know, "a secret" is a noun, and "secret" is an adjective. Here the grammatical analysis doesn't add anything to the plain meaning. But the noun is more concrete, substantial, than an adjective (these are not grammatical categories). Therefore:
    • "keep it a secret" -- (slightly) less formal and more vivid;
    • "keep it secret" -- polished literary language.
    Both phrases are extremely common. Their Google test results are:

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: 'secret' or 'a secret'

    I thiink there's a slight difference, other than the obvious syntactic one.

    'Anna's having a baby, but she wants it kept secret for now.' -> She doesn't want anyone to know about it.
    'I'm having a baby, but I'm keeping it a secret for now.' -> Sense of complicity in the secret
    'I'm having a baby, but don't tell anyone. It can just be our secret.' -> Heightened complicity - the lsitener is the only one sharing the secret (or at least is meant to think she is).

    I'm not suggesting a hard-and-fast rule here. Often the two forms you mention are effectively synonymous. And it would be quite possible to say
    'Anna's having a baby, but she wants it kept a secret for now.' But to me this sounds as if Anna's making more of an issue of the secret. The 'secret' is more 'out there'; it's a thing, that can be kept or leaked. And if it's more of a 'thing' it makes sense to use the noun form.

    b

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