Wordwatch Towers

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

Off of or off?

with 3 comments

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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’.

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3 Responses

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  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!

    Deborah

    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


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