To keep something or someone around means to have the thing or person nearby.
I always keep around some nuts when I’m working.
I always keep some nuts around when I’m working.
My brother had geckos, iguanas, and snakes as pets. He also kept around several mice.
He also kept several mice around.
Frank was too sick to do much work in the store. They kept him around out of loyalty.
KEEP AT IT, KEEP AT SOME
To keep at it means to continue doing something even if it is difficult. Notice that the stress is on the word at.
Learning English is difficult. You have to keep at it every day.
He didn’t think he could finish the experiment. However, he kept at it until he was done.
You can also name what a person is keeping at. Here the stress is on kept.
He had a full-time job. But he still kept at his studies.
Alan kept at the puzzle until it was completed.
KEEP AT SOMEONE
When you keep at someone about something you are nagging or annoying that person. Notice that the word at gets the main emphasis
My mother keeps at me about cleaning my room.
When my brother gets angry I try to calm him down. But he just keeps at me.
To keep something away means to prevent it from coming near.
The smoke keeps away the flies.
The smoke keeps the flies away.
The command keep away from means to not to go near.
Keep away from the railroad tracks.
I don’t want you to get in trouble. Keep away from bad company.
The simple command keep away means don’t come near me.
I don’t want you anywhere near me. Just keep away!
To keep back can mean to prevent from coming closer.
The emergency medical team needed space to help the accident victims. The police kept back the crowd.
The police kept the crowd back.
To keep back can also mean to prevent from making progress.
She was determined to become a big star. Nothing could keep her back.
One meaning of keep down is to swallow something and not vomit or throw up.
He had a very bad stomach virus. He tried to a eat a little. But he couldn’t keep down anything.
But he couldn’t keep anything down.
If you keep down expenses or keep down your weight you are trying to have them stay at a low level.
We are not making enough profit on the items we manufacture. We have to keep down production costs.
We have to keep production costs down.
I’m really struggling to keep down my weight.
I’m really struggling to keep my weight down.
Keep down can also refer to the level of noise.
Hey, you kids are being too loud. Please keep down the noise.
Please keep the noise down.
The phrase keep it down refers specifically to noise.
Can you kids keep it down, please?
Lastly, if you keep down a class of people that means you do not let them gain any power.
In the 1920s, the government did what it could to prevent labor unions from gaining power. The rich wanted to keep down the working man.
The rich wanted to keep the working man down.