“Off of” is a controversial phrase in English. Can you say “I took it off of the shelf” or do you need to say “I took it off the shelf”? Many insist that “off of” is grammatically incorrect, but it may not be so straightforward.
Is “Off Of” Grammatically Correct?
Whether or not “off of” is grammatically correct is moot because “Off of” is considered an idiomatic expression. It is a commonly used phrase in English. It is most common in spoken American English, but it does occasionally appear in written and British English.
An idiomatic expression is a type of informal or colloquial phrase that is commonly used regardless of whether it is grammatically correct or not.
Grammarians are torn on whether or not “off of” can be considered grammatically correct.
On one hand, “of” doesn’t add anything to the meaning. It’s not necessary like it is in a phrase like “15 miles west of here.”
On the other hand, the use of “of” here is similar to how it’s used is “15 miles west of here.” And “off” is a preposition that is often paired with other prepositions to make the meaning clearer.
The fact that it’s unnecessary doesn’t make it ungrammatical, and the fact that it could make sense doesn’t make it grammatical. So whether or not it’s grammatically correct is unclear.
However, it is definitely considered standard English, especially in the US.
What Does “Off Of” Mean?
“Off of” means “off” in the sense that you’re moving one thing “off of” another thing.
Here “off” is being used as a preposition meaning to be removed from. “Of” is also a preposition which here means to be at a distance or away from.
The meaning of “of” here is part of why “off of” is controversial.
You can drop the “of” from “off of” and still have the same meaning. You cannot drop “off” and keep the same meaning.
- (Correct) Get off of the roof.
- (Correct) Get off the roof.
- (Incorrect) Get of the roof.
Examples Of How To Use “Off Of” In A Sentence
Here are some examples of how to use “off of” in a sentence. Keep in mind that “off of” can be replaced with “off” in every one of these sentences and retain the same meaning.
- I want to jump off of the tractor!
- Go and get a book off of the shelf.
- A pile of snow just fell off of that tree and buried my car.
- They’ve profited off of
- When should I start weaning my child off of milk?
- If you don’t wipe excess paint off of the brush before you use it your paint may end up uneven.
- It took them hours to clean the slime off of everything.
Is “Off Of” Used Differently In American English And British English?
“Off of” is used much more frequently in American English than it is in British English.
According to Google Ngram Viewer, “off of” has a 0.00065% frequency in American English.
Google Ngram Viewer places “off of” at about a 0.00028% frequency in British English.
This shows us two things:
- “Off of” is more than twice as prevalent in American English than in British English
- Although “off of” is less common in British English, it is still used
Is It “Get Off Me” Or “Get Off Of Me”?
Both “get off me” and “get off of me” are correct.
“Get off of me” is often compared to “let go of me.” In “let go of me” you need the “of.” You can’t say “let go me.”
However, “go” is a verb. It needs a preposition, in this case “of,” to help connect it to the object. It’s similar to “she listens to music.” You can’t say “she listens music.” The verb “listens” needs the preposition “to” to connect it to the object.
So what about “get off of me?”
“Off” is a preposition. It doesn’t need another preposition to help connect it to the object of the sentence but it can be paired with one and still be correct.
Therefore “get off me” and “get off of me” are both correct.
Is “Off Of” Redundant?
“Off of” is redundant, but in a language filled with common redundancies, that doesn’t make it wrong.
As mentioned above, in “off of” “off” is a preposition meaning to be removed from, and “of” is a preposition meaning to be away from.
While prepositions can modify or clarify other prepositions in English, in “off of” you do not need “of.” Saying “off” in the same context means the same thing.
So yes, “off of” is definitely redundant. If you want you’re writing to be as concise as possible you’ll want to say “off” instead of “off of.”
However, in everyday spoken English redundancies are extremely common. Here’s a list of some common redundant phrases that carry the same meaning in you drop the second word:
- Cancel out
- Blend together
- Undergraduate student
- Lift up
- Kneel down
There are many situations where it makes sense to limit redundancies, particularly in formal writing. However, in everyday speech redundancies are perfectly natural.
Is “Off Of” Informal?
While “off of” is considered by some to be exclusively informal, there are many examples of it appearing in formal writing. So whether or not it’s considered informal depends mostly on your audience.
Many staunch grammarians hate seeing unnecessary redundancies in writing. So if you’re writing in an extremely formal setting or you’re writing for someone who is specifically looking for concise writing, you’ll want to edit out any use of “off of.”
However, “off of” still appears quite regularly used in situations considered formal.
The Google Ngram Viewer graph shown above pulls its data from published texts. If you scroll through the examples it gives you’ll find published books and formal academic papers alike.
“Off of” also appears regularly in American journalistic writing.
While in British English “off of” may be seen as more exclusively informal, in American English the distinction isn’t quite as clear.
“Off of” is usually okay in informal settings and often okay in formal settings. It depends on where you are and who your audience is.
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