"off of"

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Daniel0
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"off of"

Postby Daniel0 » Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:41 pm UTC

Pardon if there exists a topic on this, but the forum refused to let me search for it - the words "off" and "of" are too common.

Anyway, I've never understood why people say "off of", like "I got it off of some website". It sounds really stupid to me, like the person is stuttering or something like that. The "of" seems completely redundant to me. It would be perfectly fine to just say "I got it off some website" instead - fewer words, no stuttering, much nicer. It seems that it's mostly en-US speakers that are doing this. What's up with the entire "off of" thing?

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Re: "off of"

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 09, 2009 7:50 pm UTC

Dunno, but it's no more redundant than onto or into, which are perfectly acceptable, long-attested prepositions in English.
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Re: "off of"

Postby Daniel0 » Thu Apr 09, 2009 8:01 pm UTC

How would onto and into be redundant? I generally understand the difference between "I go into the house" and "I go in the house" (okay, you probably wouldn't say "I go in the house", but I couldn't think of a better example) to mean "I am outside, but I will enter the house" and "I am inside the house, and I'm walking around". Maybe you're talking about something else though.

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Re: "off of"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:12 am UTC

The book fell on the table. The book fell onto the table.
I took the book off the table. I took the book off of the table.

I'm really not seeing how onto somehow has more extra meaning than off of...

And "I go in the house" would never, in my mind, mean "I walk around inside the house, where I was already". It would mean "I go into the house". Compare "Get in the car" and "get into the car". Is there any difference at all?
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Re: "off of"

Postby PM 2Ring » Fri Apr 10, 2009 12:54 pm UTC

I asked about this construction a month ago in Little editing/grammar mistakes that drive you up the wall .
Daniel0 wrote: It seems that it's mostly en-US speakers that are doing this. What's up with the entire "off of" thing?

I think you're right. It certainly not standard in British or Australian English.

gmalivuk wrote:The book fell on the table. The book fell onto the table.
I took the book off the table. I took the book off of the table.

I'm really not seeing how onto somehow has more extra meaning than off of...

In your example sentences, the "on" version is a little more ambiguous: the book may have already been on the table when it fell over. The "onto" version tends to imply that the book did not start on the table.

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Re: "off of"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:36 pm UTC

PM 2Ring wrote:
Daniel0 wrote: It seems that it's mostly en-US speakers that are doing this. What's up with the entire "off of" thing?

I think you're right. It certainly not standard in British or Australian English.

Well it's not really standard in American English, either, though it has become much less common in Britain than here.

But it was first attested in England in the 16th century. And like many "incorrect" expressions, Shakespeare used it. No one seems to have had any problem with it until 1881.

The MWDEU wrote:If it is part of your personal idiom and you are not writing on an especially elevated plane, you have no reason to avoid off of.

So sure, not a formal construction, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it.
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Re: "off of"

Postby goofy » Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:57 pm UTC

off was originally just the strong form of of. Here's the earliest example of off of:

?c1450 in G. Müller Aus mittelengl. Medizintexten (1929) 116 Take a sponfull of þe licour..of of þe fyir and sette it in good place tyl þat it be ny colde, soo as þou mayst suffryn to holdyn þer-in þin hand.
(Take a spoonful of the liquour... off of the fire and set it in a good place til it be almost cold, so that thou mayest suffer to hold it in thine hand.)

The OED says it wasn't until the 17th century that they became fully differentiated.

SIMPCOX: A fall off of a tree. - King Henry VI part II, Act II, scene I
Last edited by goofy on Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:28 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: "off of"

Postby Bobber » Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:42 pm UTC

goofy wrote:Take a sponfull of þe licour..of of þe fyir and sette it in good place tyl þat it be ny colde, soo as þou mayst suffryn to holdyn þer-in þin hand.
(Take a spoonful of the liquour... off of the fire and set it in a good place til it be not cold, so that thou mayest suffer to hold it in thine hand.)
Take if off of the fire and wait for it to be not cold? Are you sure?
Nice citation though.
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Re: "off of"

Postby iZealot » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:10 pm UTC

With "I picked the scab off my leg" vs "I picked the scab off of my leg," the former leads me to believe that the scab then fell into oblivion, the latter, that I now possess said scab. So the "I took it off of the website" could refer to your current utilization of the article in question, whereas "I took it off the website" implies that you erased it from the website. The "of" tends to be concerned with the current state of the object picked or taken, omission strikes it from our focus and damns the scab or the "it" to a lonely fate where it is forgotten and ignored and its cries to be loved and cherished go unheeded.

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Re: "off of"

Postby psychosomaticism » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:17 pm UTC

Yeah, does not "of" imply some ownership, so that "off of" is an awkward way of saying away from the ownership (which isn't any less awkward).

Daniel0 wrote: It seems that it's mostly en-US speakers that are doing this. What's up with the entire "off of" thing?


It's also en-CAN, as far as I've seen. Then again, English is a weird language, that seems to evolve faster than the flu.

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Re: "off of"

Postby stolid » Sat Apr 11, 2009 3:03 am UTC

I guess that could make sense.

I'm American and I generally never say "off of". I don't use it with motion. The only thing I can think of is getting off of something (but not in a physical manner), such as drugs or a device, etc.
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Re: "off of"

Postby goofy » Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:23 pm UTC

Bobber wrote:Take if off of the fire and wait for it to be not cold? Are you sure?


Good point. ny is probably neigh "nearly, almost", that makes more sense.

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Re: "off of"

Postby Bobber » Sun Apr 12, 2009 1:01 am UTC

goofy wrote:
Bobber wrote:Take if off of the fire and wait for it to be not cold? Are you sure?


Good point. ny is probably neigh "nearly, almost", that makes more sense.
Ah, but of course! Thanks for the insight.
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Re: "off of"

Postby Simbera » Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:24 pm UTC

goofy wrote:
Bobber wrote:Take if off of the fire and wait for it to be not cold? Are you sure?


Good point. ny is probably neigh "nearly, almost", that makes more sense.


Nitpicking, but wouldn't that be "nigh"? "Neigh" is the sound a horse makes :P Or am I just splitting hairs and yours is an acceptable alternate spelling?

iZealot wrote:So the "I took it off of the website" could refer to your current utilization of the article in question, whereas "I took it off the website" implies that you erased it from the website.


I don't know, I could see both meaning either (ie "off of the website" meaning deletion, and vice versa). And the distinction is removed entirely if you just change the verb from "took" to "got".

For the record, I have found it to be used very frequently in Australian English, albeit more often among the less-educated. I haven't really taken notice but I think I use it myself on occasion, in situations where the lone "off" sounds clunky.

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Re: "off of"

Postby goofy » Sun Apr 12, 2009 6:19 pm UTC

Simbera wrote:
goofy wrote:
Bobber wrote:Take if off of the fire and wait for it to be not cold? Are you sure?


Good point. ny is probably neigh "nearly, almost", that makes more sense.


Nitpicking, but wouldn't that be "nigh"? "Neigh" is the sound a horse makes :P Or am I just splitting hairs and yours is an acceptable alternate spelling?


I'm talking about the Middle English word.

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Re: "off of"

Postby n7a7v7i » Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:30 pm UTC

Daniel0 wrote:Pardon if there exists a topic on this, but the forum refused to let me search for it - the words "off" and "of" are too common.

Anyway, I've never understood why people say "off of", like "I got it off of some website". It sounds really stupid to me, like the person is stuttering or something like that. The "of" seems completely redundant to me. It would be perfectly fine to just say "I got it off some website" instead - fewer words, no stuttering, much nicer. It seems that it's mostly en-US speakers that are doing this. What's up with the entire "off of" thing?


Instead of arguing why or why not "off of" is redundant, or comparing it to words like "into" and "onto", I'll do something different.

Take, for example, the following sentence: I took it off a website about frogs and their toenails.
The sentence could be interpreted to mean "I took if from a website about....", OR "I took it off", meaning it was removed.

For some unknown mystical reason, the extra "of" in "off of" changes the semantics of the mini-phrase ever so slightly, in a way that nearly entirely removes the possible interpretation of "off" as the action of removing something from somewhere. That is why we use "off of". Or at least that's how I hear it over here in the Bay.

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Re: "off of"

Postby Bobber » Mon Apr 13, 2009 12:03 am UTC

n7a7v7i wrote:Take, for example, the following sentence: I took it off a website about frogs and their toenails.
The sentence could be interpreted to mean "I took if from a website about....", OR "I took it off", meaning it was removed.

For some unknown mystical reason, the extra "of" in "off of" changes the semantics of the mini-phrase ever so slightly, in a way that nearly entirely removes the possible interpretation of "off" as the action of removing something from somewhere. That is why we use "off of". Or at least that's how I hear it over here in the Bay.
I completely agree. This is the meaning of "off of" that I interpret whenever I read or hear it.
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Re: "off of"

Postby Rinsaikeru » Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:13 am UTC

That could be problematized in a physical example,

say:

"I took it off of the shelf" It does indicate removal.
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Re: "off of"

Postby Silas » Mon Apr 13, 2009 5:44 am UTC

I feel like 'off of' implies origin, more than removal. Like 'out of,' except 'out' doesn't have such a similar meaning. (Moses didn't lead the Jews *out Egypt, unless maybe he actually started in Ethiopia and was just passing through).

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Re: "off of"

Postby jaap » Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:01 am UTC

Silas wrote:I feel like 'off of' implies origin, more than removal. Like 'out of,' except 'out' doesn't have such a similar meaning. (Moses didn't lead the Jews *out Egypt, unless maybe he actually started in Ethiopia and was just passing through).


I'm pretty sure I've heard sentences like "Take it out the first box and put it into the second."
This might be mostly British English usage.

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Re: "off of"

Postby n7a7v7i » Mon Apr 13, 2009 7:25 pm UTC

Rinsaikeru wrote:That could be problematized in a physical example,

say:

"I took it off of the shelf" It does indicate removal.


Actually, not really, no.

Even in this example, when I hear this, my brain is still slightly more inclined to imagining some sort of alternate interpretation, where nothing is being physically removed.

I think I should explain exactly what I mean. Okay, so a few days ago, my friends and I were talking quite randomly about the taste of condoms. Somehow, the fact that there are indeed chocolate-flavored condoms popped up in the conversation. When I asked my friend "how the hell he knew that", she quickly mentioned that she got it "off of an advertisement". I asked her if she meant "like on the TV", and she said "no, like a newspaper ad.

So, the point of my example there was to show that even in this strange lil' situation there, I was lead to believe that the "off of" meant a metaphysical "taking from", rather than a more physical "removal" action. Concept piracy, if you will.

And thus, when I hear your example "I tuhk it offa da shelf", unless the "it" is already known to be a specific and physical object, and not at all a possible meme, I will jump to the conclusion that you mean an idea. Like, y'know, maybe somebody carved a poem on the top of the shelf, and you got it "offa da shelf". Even though it's probably less likely, my brain prefers this interpretation, as it justifies the use of the extra "of".

Sorry if that makes very little sense.

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Re: "off of"

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Apr 13, 2009 10:40 pm UTC

n7a7v7i wrote:Somehow, the fact that there are indeed chocolate-flavored condoms popped up in the conversation. When I asked my friend "how the hell he knew that", she quickly mentioned that she got it "off of an advertisement". I asked her if she meant "like on the TV", and she said "no, like a newspaper ad.

That's not a very good example, because you can't remove something from an advertisement, so of course "off of" couldn't mean removal in that case.
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Re: "off of"

Postby Silas » Mon Apr 13, 2009 11:11 pm UTC

jaap wrote:I'm pretty sure I've heard sentences like "Take it out the first box and put it into the second."
This might be mostly British English usage.

I suppose it must be a dialect thing, because that reads like an editing mistake to me, as if you copy-pasted something, and didn't fix the syntax, afterward.
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Re: "off of"

Postby Simbera » Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:55 pm UTC

goofy wrote:I'm talking about the Middle English word.


Withdrawn.

There seems to be a bit of a trend here in the examples people are giving - "off of" indicating actual motion, and "off" just indicating the origin.

For example:

"I took it off of the shelf"
"It's an off-the-shelf product"

"I took it off of the website" (removing content)
"I took it off the website" (researching)

"He got off of the plane"
"He's fresh off the plane"

They generally sound very "gooder than it used to was" to me, but that's probably just because I'm not used to it. Assuming I'm correct, it would fit the existing "into" paradigm fairly closely; maybe "off of" is the same phenomenon, a little late to the party, as (sort of) suggested by others?

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Re: "off of"

Postby n7a7v7i » Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:21 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
n7a7v7i wrote:Somehow, the fact that there are indeed chocolate-flavored condoms popped up in the conversation. When I asked my friend "how the hell he knew that", she quickly mentioned that she got it "off of an advertisement". I asked her if she meant "like on the TV", and she said "no, like a newspaper ad.

That's not a very good example, because you can't remove something from an advertisement, so of course "off of" couldn't mean removal in that case.


Well, then screw my example.

Still, I'll just stick to that other scenario that the other guy gave. About someone getting something off or off of a shelf. I dunno, maybe it's stronger here in the Bay, or just generally California....
But to my ears and in my linguistic instinct, saying "I got if off the shelf" definitely implies removal, and "I took it off the shelf" removes all doubt.
And yet, if I were to hear something like "I got it off of the shelf", or "I took it off of the shelf", well, the meaning wouldn't immediately change, but there would be an implied secondary meaning that simply did not exist without the "of".

Sure, the change may still be quite immature, but it exists, somewhere in the depths of my mind. "off of" is simply not just a redundant bit of dialect. It carries meaning, and it's a meaning that exists in virtually every way it can be used.

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Re: "off of"

Postby Quincunx » Mon May 04, 2009 2:26 am UTC

"off of" sounds silly unless you pronounce it right. i.e., 'awf ov'. In the same way one says 'there is not enough room in the room' with the first oo pronounced as in 'good', and the second as in 'doom'.

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Re: "off of"

Postby dalahäst » Mon May 04, 2009 3:34 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:1. The book fell on the table.
2. The book fell onto the table.
3. I took the book off the table.
4. I took the book off of the table.

I'm really not seeing how onto somehow has more extra meaning than off of...

And "I go in the house" would never, in my mind, mean "I walk around inside the house, where I was already". It would mean "I go into the house". Compare "Get in the car" and "get into the car". Is there any difference at all?


1. The book which was on the table fell over.
2. The book which was previously not on the table fell onto it.
3 and 4. I removed from the table the book which rested on it. Theoretically, 3 could also mean "I removed the the book which was not on the table," but that's a stretch.

"I go in the house" and "I go into the house" can mean the same thing ("The place which I am entering is the house"), but I think the first can also be interpreted to mean "The place in which I perform the action of going (i.e. walking about) is the house".

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Re: "off of"

Postby tgjensen » Mon May 04, 2009 8:16 am UTC

And the second can mean "I hit a brick wall"!

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Re: "off of"

Postby n7a7v7i » Wed May 06, 2009 1:52 am UTC

dalahäst wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:1. The book fell on the table.
2. The book fell onto the table.
3. I took the book off the table.
4. I took the book off of the table.

I'm really not seeing how onto somehow has more extra meaning than off of...

And "I go in the house" would never, in my mind, mean "I walk around inside the house, where I was already". It would mean "I go into the house". Compare "Get in the car" and "get into the car". Is there any difference at all?


1. The book which was on the table fell over.
2. The book which was previously not on the table fell onto it.
3 and 4. I removed from the table the book which rested on it. Theoretically, 3 could also mean "I removed the the book which was not on the table," but that's a stretch.

"I go in the house" and "I go into the house" can mean the same thing ("The place which I am entering is the house"), but I think the first can also be interpreted to mean "The place in which I perform the action of going (i.e. walking about) is the house".


Okay, well I'll agree with you on one thing.

I guess that off of really has no more meaning than off when the action being described is clearly physical and very straightforward.

I remember last year, I had a teacher who told us that he usually didn't mind English and all of its various forms and uses in the modern world... but then one day, a girl in his class dropped something in a can of Coca-Cola, and exclaimed, "Oh, I dropped that thang all off up 'n in there!". That's where we should probably draw the line at overuse of prepositions. =P

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Re: "off of"

Postby dalahäst » Wed May 06, 2009 4:36 am UTC

"all off up 'n there"? That's pretty disturbing. It still gets on my nerves when my dad says that something fell "in the floor", or is "in the floor" instead of "on the floor".

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Re: "off of"

Postby gmalivuk » Wed May 06, 2009 4:42 am UTC

Can Jesus walk in the floor?

I mean, Jesus can walk on water, while we mere mortals must walk in it. So I figure that if mortals must walk on the floor, perhaps Jesus could walk in it.
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Re: "off of"

Postby d33p » Wed May 06, 2009 4:43 am UTC

And then He ascended off of the floor.
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Re: "off of"

Postby dalahäst » Wed May 06, 2009 4:44 am UTC

No, he only uses it for things. People walk on it, but things fall in it.

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Re: "off of"

Postby Hobgoblin » Wed May 06, 2009 10:44 am UTC

I would use "off of" in real life, being an American English speaker. I probably wouldn't use it in the fora, because, you know.. I try to impress you guys, or something.

gmalivuk wrote:Can Jesus walk in the floor?

I mean, Jesus can walk on water, while we mere mortals must walk in it. So I figure that if mortals must walk on the floor, perhaps Jesus could walk in it.

You see, Jesus is magic. In the event that He might be traveling across water, He would walk on it, because it's cool. If He were to traverse a simple floor, He would moonwalk across it.
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Re: "off of"

Postby n7a7v7i » Fri May 08, 2009 2:38 am UTC

d33p wrote:And then He ascended off of the floor.


Ha... I really just can't wait until they start printing out Bibles in AAVE.

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Re: "off of"

Postby aurumelectrum13 » Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:19 am UTC

"I go in the house" and "I go into the house" can mean the same thing ("The place which I am entering is the house"), but I think the first can also be interpreted to mean "The place in which I perform the action of going (i.e. walking about) is the house".


dalahäst is right. Both meanings can apply, depending, I think, on which word the emphasis is placed, i.e. "I go in the house." would mean "The first person ambulates throughout the domicile." "I go in the house," however, would mean "The first person enters the domocile from the out-of-doors."

I think I would only use the latter when speaking/writing, and I would use some form of "walk" in the former example.

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Re: "off of"

Postby thatblackguy » Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:39 am UTC

It's a bad phrase and people using it are bad people.
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gmalivuk
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Re: "off of"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jun 23, 2009 8:42 pm UTC

Thank you for your well-considered input...
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
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llamapalooza
ambiguous antecedents
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Re: "off of"

Postby llamapalooza » Fri Jun 26, 2009 12:34 am UTC

Slightly off-topic: When you people keep posting "go in the house," it makes me think of "the dog goes in the house," indicating a little mess to be cleaned up. "The dog goes into the house" means he's entering, not defecating.

"Off of" sounds completely natural to me, and "off" sounds slightly wrong or informal, actually. In normal speech, I'll usually shorten to, for instance, "stop dancing and get offa' the roof." I can't imagine myself saying "get off the bench." And, hey, it eliminates any ambiguity in the spoken "I helped my Uncle, Jack, off the horse."

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Angua
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Re: "off of"

Postby Angua » Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:23 pm UTC

A common phrase here (Nevis) is 'lean up off the wall', so if off of becomes more common down here (which it is beginning to) I'm betting we'll end up with 'lean up off of the wall'.
Crabtree's bludgeon: “no set of mutually inconsistent observations can exist for which some human intellect cannot conceive a coherent explanation, however complicated”
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