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Keep vs. Maintain: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sara Rehman || Published on December 10, 2023
"Keep" implies holding or retaining something in its current state, whereas "maintain" suggests actively working to ensure something remains in a specific condition or continues operating as intended.

Key Differences

"Keep" often refers to the state of holding or retaining something without much change, suggesting possession or continuity. In contrast, "maintain" implies a more active role, involving efforts to sustain or uphold a condition, often requiring action or intervention.
Sara Rehman
Dec 10, 2023
When we "keep" something, we are preserving it as it is, like keeping a secret or a promise, which involves no change to the state of the secret or promise. Conversely, to "maintain" something, like a garden or a relationship, requires ongoing effort and action to ensure its continued existence or quality.
Sara Rehman
Dec 10, 2023
"Keep" can also imply compliance or adherence, as in keeping to a schedule, where the focus is on not deviating. "Maintain," however, often involves the idea of keeping something at a certain level or standard, such as maintaining a certain grade in school, which requires active effort.
Huma Saeed
Dec 10, 2023
In a physical sense, "keep" can refer to storing or housing something, like keeping tools in a shed, where the tools remain passive. In contrast, "maintain" is used when there is an active role in preservation, like maintaining machinery, which involves regular checks and repairs.
Janet White
Dec 10, 2023
"Keep" can suggest continuity over time, such as keeping a diary, which is an ongoing process but often passive. On the other hand, "maintain" suggests not just continuity, but also quality control, like maintaining one's health, which requires consistent and active involvement.
Janet White
Dec 10, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Nature of Action

Passive retention
Active effort
Sara Rehman
Dec 10, 2023

Involvement

Minimal or no intervention required
Regular intervention needed
Sara Rehman
Dec 10, 2023

Context

Often used for objects or promises
Commonly refers to conditions, states
Sara Rehman
Dec 10, 2023

Duration

Implies long-term holding
Suggests ongoing, consistent effort
Harlon Moss
Dec 10, 2023

Example Usage

"Keep a diary"
"Maintain a car"
Harlon Moss
Dec 10, 2023
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Keep and Maintain Definitions

Keep

Adhere to a path or practice.
Keep to the left on the road.
Sara Rehman
Nov 20, 2023

Maintain

Keep in good repair
Maintain your car regularly.
Sara Rehman
Nov 20, 2023

Keep

Retain possession.
Keep the receipt for your records.
Sara Rehman
Nov 20, 2023

Maintain

Continue at a specified level
Maintain a steady pace in the race.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 20, 2023

Keep

Continue a specific state.
Keep quiet during the movie.
Harlon Moss
Nov 20, 2023

Maintain

Preserve in an existing state
Maintain a clean house.
Sara Rehman
Nov 20, 2023

Keep

Preserve or protect.
Keep the leftovers in the fridge.
Huma Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Maintain

Assert or declare
Maintain your innocence in the debate.
Sara Rehman
Nov 20, 2023

Keep

Remain in a specified condition.
Keep safe during your travels.
Sara Rehman
Nov 20, 2023

Maintain

Support or uphold
Maintain your strength with a healthy diet.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 20, 2023

Keep

To retain possession of
Kept the change.
Must keep your composure.
Sara Rehman
Nov 19, 2023

Maintain

To keep up or carry on; continue
Maintain good relations.
Sara Rehman
Nov 19, 2023

Keep

To have as a supply
Keep spare parts in case of emergency.
Sara Rehman
Nov 19, 2023

Maintain

To keep in an existing state; preserve or retain
Maintain one's composure.
Sara Rehman
Nov 19, 2023

FAQs

Can "keep" involve active effort?

Usually, "keep" involves less effort, focusing on retaining or holding something.
Sara Rehman
Dec 10, 2023

Does "maintain" imply long-term involvement?

Yes, "maintain" often implies long-term, ongoing involvement or effort.
Janet White
Dec 10, 2023

Can "keep" imply a change?

No, "keep" generally implies retaining the current state without change.
Sara Rehman
Dec 10, 2023

Is "keep" used in legal language?

Yes, "keep" is used in legal contexts, often related to possession or compliance.
Harlon Moss
Dec 10, 2023

Can "maintain" be used in emotional contexts?

Yes, "maintain" can be used for emotional states, like maintaining calm.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 10, 2023

Can "maintain" refer to beliefs or opinions?

Yes, "maintain" can be used to express holding or defending beliefs or opinions.
Janet White
Dec 10, 2023

Does "keep" imply responsibility?

"Keep" can imply a responsibility to retain or hold onto something.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 10, 2023

Can "keep" be used in a protective sense?

Yes, "keep" can imply protection, as in keeping someone safe.
Sara Rehman
Dec 10, 2023

Is "maintain" always about physical objects?

No, "maintain" can refer to physical objects, relationships, or conditions.
Huma Saeed
Dec 10, 2023

Is "maintain" related to upkeep?

Yes, "maintain" is often related to the upkeep or care of something.
Sara Rehman
Dec 10, 2023

Can "keep" refer to physical storage?

Yes, "keep" can refer to storing or housing something.
Sara Rehman
Dec 10, 2023

Is "keep" suitable for describing active processes?

Generally, "keep" is less about active processes and more about static states.
Janet White
Dec 10, 2023

Does "maintain" imply a standard or level?

Yes, "maintain" often implies keeping something at a certain standard or level.
Harlon Moss
Dec 10, 2023

Can "maintain" mean to argue for something?

Yes, "maintain" can mean to assert or argue in favor of something.
Sara Rehman
Dec 10, 2023

Can "keep" mean to continue?

Yes, "keep" can mean to continue in a state, action, or condition.
Janet White
Dec 10, 2023

Does "keep" imply permanence?

"Keep" can imply a long-term state, but not necessarily permanence.
Janet White
Dec 10, 2023

Does "maintain" require skill or knowledge?

Sometimes, "maintain" can require specific skills or knowledge, especially in technical contexts.
Sara Rehman
Dec 10, 2023

Is "maintain" used in technical contexts?

Yes, "maintain" is commonly used in technical contexts for upkeep and care.
Harlon Moss
Dec 10, 2023

Is "keep" often used in casual language?

Yes, "keep" is commonly used in everyday, casual language.
Sara Rehman
Dec 10, 2023

Is "maintain" used in relationship contexts?

Yes, "maintain" can be used to describe efforts in sustaining relationships.
Sara Rehman
Dec 10, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sara Rehman
Sara Rehman is a seasoned writer and editor with extensive experience at Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Information Technology, she combines her academic prowess with her passion for writing to deliver insightful and well-researched content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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