I have come across these many times

“Please excuse me. I have to leave now to put my children TO SLEEP.
“Please excuse me. I have to leave now to put my children TO BED.

Is there a difference between any of the sentences?

Similarly as follows:

"Please SWITCH your mobile phone to silent mode.”
“Please PUT your mobile phone on silent mode.”

In any case, is one sentence more grammatically correct than another?

  • Along with learning new words, it is also helpful to understand the meanings of phrases, known as idioms, which can sometimes be very different from the meanings of the individual words. See: idioms.thefreedictionary.com/put+to+sleep Depending on the context the phrase can mean many different things. Please visit our sister site ell.stackexchange.com
    – Kris
    Sep 30, 2013 at 13:23

2 Answers 2


I don't know whether you're native English or not, but in the UK, we would never say 'put my children to sleep'. What that actually means is you're intending to either kill them, or use knockout drugs to make them sleep. We put animals 'to sleep', which is a euphemistic term for killing them, in particular with the use of drugs, when they're ill or suffering. Therefore, 'put my children to bed' is usual.

As for switch and put your mobile ... either is fine.

  • Thank you, that probably explains why I see putting my children to bed more often compared to putting my children to sleep. Sep 30, 2013 at 12:52

One aspect to consider is that for many children going to bed is not the same as going to sleep. Going to bed may mean that they are allowed to stay up and read, watch tv etc. Thus a difference between putting another to sleep or bed exists in this manner.

If one is to switch their mobile phone to silent this implies that their mobile phone is not in the state of silent mode already. While to put your mobile phone to silent mode doesn't make this assumption to such an extent.

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