Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Off of or off?

with 3 comments

Looking north along west sidewalk of Bedford S...
Image via Wikipedia

Look at the following sentences:

I picked it up off of the pavement

I picked it up off the pavement

Which is correct? Well, ‘off of’ has been usd for hundreds of years, and is still perfectly OK when writing or speaking informally. However, it is now preferable when writing formally to use ‘off’ on its own, without the additional ‘of’.

More writing guides

Commonly confused and just plain wrong


3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Call me formal, then. Why add another word if one isn’t needed?

    In a related vein, my students always write “build off of [whatever]” instead of my preferred usage, “build on.” I will abide, as always, by the ruling of Wordwatch. What say you, Deb?

    Maggie Manning

    17/03/2010 at 12:55 pm

  2. Hi, Maggie

    Do you mean, for example, ‘to build on a previous achievement’, or a similar kind of usage? If so, ‘build off of’ would be a very unfamiliar phrase to my UK ears. I think ‘build on’ would be preferred on this side of the pond. ‘Build off of’ sounds a tad clumsy perhaps? I’m not sure I’ve heard or read the phrase here at all. Interesting!


    17/03/2010 at 1:34 pm

  3. Two prepositions inna row are plenty; one is better.

    Michael Farrell

    17/03/2010 at 3:08 pm

Your questions and comments are welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: