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Sense Vocabulary: "Neutral Touch" Words

The two people in this picture are holding hands.
(Image by Elizabeth Ann Colette, used through a Creative Commons license)

Hello! Tonight we’ll be looking at four more words related to the sense of touch. In our last post we talked about “good” touch, and today we’ll talk about “neutral” touch, which are words that can be positive or negative, depending on the context and circumstances.

Today’s words can be used for humans, but you may notice that they’re also frequently used to talk about touching objects. The words are:

Touch, Poke, Hold and Grab: “Neutral” Touching

“Touch” is the most obvious of these words, and I’m only listing it here to mention that it can be positive, negative, or neutral, depending on how you use it. It’s general, basically. It can also mean to make an emotional connection:

“I was touched by the thoughtful gift you gave to me, especially since I didn’t expect it.”


The children in this picture are using a stick to poke into the sand, possibly to find something. (Image by Jconnell22, used under a Creative Commons license)
“Poke” means to use your index finger (or any other single finger, or a long object like a stick or a pole) to touch something. People often poke things to test if they are dangerous, to feel their texture, or to check if they are alive:

“Jane drank a lot of wine and now she’s apparently ‘sleeping’ on the couch. Someone should poke her to wake her up and make sure she’s OK.”

This animal is called a Hedgehog. The person is holding the hedgehog in his hand. (Image by Hundehalter, used under a Creative Commons license)
“Hold” is a word that indicates you continually have something in your hand for a period of time. It’s often used in sentences like:

“Can you please hold this bag of groceries while I find my keys and open the door?”

Also, if two people have their hands together for a long period of time, they are holding hands (like in the first picture above). This is common in romantic couples.


The bars on the sides of this toilet are called grab bars. If a person has difficulties sitting or standing up, he or she can grab the bars to help keep their balance. (Image by Shoyuramen, used under a Creative Commons license)
“Grab” is very similar to hold or take, but it indicates taking something quickly or informally. For example, if you leave your house and realize you forgot something, you can say:

“Oh! I forgot my book. I’ll go back inside to grab it.”
Another way to use “grab” can be to use it like “get,” as in:
“After we finish work, a few of us are going to a restaurant to grab some dinner. Do you want to come?”
So, that’s it for today. On Monday we’ll finish our trio of posts with three more “bad touch” words. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to join the conversation! Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!
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