Published: 01st May 2021
English Blues: What do the words stay and safe mean when put together in a sentence?
How a friendly farewell expression has become a piece of advice or a warning shows that the language evolves as per changing situations
Of late, when the second wave of COVID-19 is sweeping through the country, we’ve been hearing the phrase ‘stay safe’ quite frequently. Almost everyone who speaks English uses the phrase in their daily conversations. ‘Stay home; stay safe’ is the extension of ‘stay safe’ during this period of the pandemic. The expression ‘Have a nice day!’ was a standard way of saying goodbye, but now the most commonly used expression is ‘Stay safe’. Why? The answer is that the current situation demands it. What do we really mean when we say ‘stay safe’ to someone? In the past, the phrase was used as a friendly farewell, as in the examples below: We’ll meet again after a week. Stay safe, my friend. Kids, stay safe! Now, when we use this phrase, we remind people to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour such as wearing masks, maintaining social distancing or staying at home in order to not to be infected by the Coronavirus.
As a piece of advice, the phrase expresses our care and concern for the other person. How a friendly farewell expression has become a piece of advice or a warning shows that the language evolves as per changing situations. I have discussed the importance of being familiar with word chunks. Let’s look at other useful expressions that collocate with the word ‘stay’. Here are some ‘stay+adjective’ collocations: stay healthy stay focused stay strong stay updated stay informed We also use the expression ‘stay in the loop’ to keep up to date with the things that are important.
The expression ‘stay in the know’ also means the same. If a person stays in the know about something, they have information about it. She is good at keeping her friends in the loop with the latest gossip and they enjoy staying in the loop. I want you to stay in the know so that you act promptly when something goes wrong. We use the expression ‘stay focused’ to tell someone to continue trying something in order to achieve what they have planned. How do we say ‘stay focused’ in different ways? We can use the phrases ‘stay at it’, ‘stay on track’ and ‘stay the course’. Here are examples of how the phrases are used in sentences: If you want to become a hacker, you have to stay at it. You should never give up. She got three research papers published in a year by staying on track. I want to find out why they failed to stay the course. The English language is so rich that it allows users to say anything in different ways. Constant exposure to the language in the form of reading (stories, novels, news reports, etc.) and listening (news, conversations, lecture, etc.) helps anyone become familiar with different expressions. It is important to learn word chunks used in different contexts.