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General Writing and Grammar Help/Keep something in the family

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Question
Dear Ted:

Does "to keep something in the family" exist?

If so, would you please give me some examples of how to use it correctly?

Many, many thanks for your kind help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

Does "to keep something in the family" exist?

If so, would you please give me some examples of how to use it correctly?


*** Yes, the phrase exists.  To the best of my knowledge, it can be used for just two instances:

1.  Something of significance to a family -- house, land, precious jewelry, certain furniture, etc. -- is passed on from one generation to another.  That item is usually rare or expensive.  It can also be something of sentimental value.

The Johnson's farm has been kept in their family for seven generation.

This Bible has been kept in our family for many years.  It contains a complete family tree from 1620 to the preset day.

2.  Some deep secret that is shared by very few people, such as certain members of a family.

James was adopted when he was a baby.  Only his father and mother knew about the adoption; it was kept guarded from the other members of the family.

Every family has certain secrets that are kept from other members of the family and from the public.  They are called our "skeletons in the closet."

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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