How should one translate the English verb "keep" in the meaning of not giving something away or not giving it to someone else?


Keep the change!

(Implied: Don't give it back to me.)

She donated all her money, but kept the diamonds.

(Unlike the money, she didn't give the diamonds away.)

Keep your drink, just give me the money.

U + Ur Hand by P!nk

(Implied: Don't buy (and give) me the drink, give me the money you'd spend on it instead.)

3 Answers 3


How should one translate the English verb "keep" in the meaning of not giving something away or not giving it to someone else?

In that specific sense you could use:

  • *konserv/i, laŭ PIV: Ne perdi, plu posedi, havi ankoraŭ

For example (from Tekstaro):

 Konservu viajn ŝparaĵojn; mi liveros al vi la tutan monon,
 ke ili povas tute trankvile konservi por si la liton,
 ke ŝi tiel same volonte kuŝas en la tirkesto.
Nun mi tre volus konservi la duan, kiu ankoraŭ restis al mi
  • Another possibility is *gard/i (and the already mentioned *ten/i).

It depends on how you perceive the action. Is keeping something also protecting it or avoiding its disappearance? Then gardi might be the right translation. See this sentence from Zamenhof:

Amu Antonon, sed gardu vian monon. (proverbo)
  • If you only want the "not give (usually something that you should have given or you risked losing)" meaning then you have reten/i:

Konservi ĉe si ion, kion oni devus doni, vendi ks:

  • Is there a verb that just and only means "not give", without any implication of whether the thing is also preserved / protected or guarded?
    – das-g
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 22:37
  • I think in that case reteni could be used. I updated the answer. Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 0:02

La vorto «teni» sonas taŭga:

* ten/i (tr)


2 (iun) Restigi senŝanĝe en iu loko aŭ stato, malhelpante la foriron aŭ liberiĝon: teni iun en malliberejo; teni birdon en kaĝo; iru, iru, mi vin ne tenas!; teni la amason en spirita sklaveco; amu edzinon plej kore, sed tenu ŝin bonmore; teni la landon en malĝojo; (f) la ŝnuroj de lia peko lin tenos; lia promeso tenas lin; lia fianĉiĝo tenas lin malproksime de ĉiuj diboĉaĵoj; la febro lin tenas; mi estas tenata de miaj okupoj.

  • Doesn't this meaning of "teni" imply to actually hold the object, i.e., prevent or limit its movement? What if something is being kept in one's possession without such restriction?
    – das-g
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 22:41
  • Indeed teni means more "to keep something in a place". Teni sian monon en la monujo : to keep one's money in one's wallet. While that is literal holding, you can use teni also figuratively, see the quoted example Iru, iru, mi ne vin tenas!: Go, go, I'm not holding you back/keeping you from going/preventing you from going. Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 7:20

Another option is restigi:

PIV 3 Lasi, ke io apartenu al iu: nur prunti, ne restigi al si!

PIV 4 Lasi stari, ne forigi, konservi: la venonta tago restigos al ili nek radikon nek branĉon.

  • Isn't this kinda the reverse? ("not take <something> from <someone>" / "not take <something> away" instead of "not give <something> to <someone>" / "not give something away"?)
    – das-g
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 22:45
  • I wouldn't say the exact reverse, but you're right, restigi doesn't mean "to keep something". My reading of the examples in PIV is more like "to leave behind oneself". Libroj estis ĉio, kion lia patro restigis al li (…left to him) or la akridoj formanĝis ĉion, kion restigis la hajlo (…remained after the hail). Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 7:08
  • I think that restigi al si ion may be translated as to keep something. The Spanish-Esperanto Dictionary by F. de Diego gives the following example: li restigis al si mian libron = se quedó con mi libro [he kept my book].
    – Vidamuzo
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 11:36
  • @Vidamuzo, while ultimately the result is the same, the book stayed by him, I see a nuance difference. I think this way: resti : to stay → restigi : to make be-stayed i.e. to leave (behind oneself), which I see as a more passive act (just not giving something away) than actively keeping something. So li restigis al si mian libron : he left to himself my book i.e. kept it by not making an effort to return it. Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 16:27
  • @Juha Metsäkallas: No doubt there's a nuance difference. Personally I prefer konservi but thought this other option was worth mentioning, as it may work sometimes.
    – Vidamuzo
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 10:22

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