Learn English – Is “put in place” a correct English expression


I'm French and work with a German colleague. I often hear the expression "put in place" which to me corresponds to the French expression "mettre en place".

This expression means more or less "set up things to get something to work". For example:

I put in place all the shelves so you can store your books.

Is this grammatical and idiomatic?

Best Answer

"In place" is an idiom, meaning:

  1. In the appropriate or usual position or order: With everything in place, she started the slide show.
  2. In the same spot; without moving forwards or backwards: While marching in place, the band played a popular tune.

"Put in place" can be a combination of the literal "put" and the idiomatic "in place", in which case it means positioned correctly, returned to its proper location, or placed where it currently is.

"Put in place" can also be an idiom in its own right, meaning established or implemented, usually referring to a system, a social structure or an institution, and often not involving any actual objects being relocated. Similarly (like with your example above) it can also mean "constructed" or "assembled" when referring to a useful physical stationary object, like your shelters for books. It could also mean that the individual organized, managed or funded the establishment of a system, institution, piece of infrastructure, etcetera, through proxies who performed the actual work.

Being "put in place" as a person takes on a more negative context and indicates being scolded, punished, reminded of authority or reminded of one's proper position in a social structure.