"Off" and "Of"

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Difference between "Off" and "Of"?

"Off" and "of" are easy to confuse because of the inconsistency in English pronunciation.
  • "Off" is the opposite of "on." (It is pronounced off.) For example:
    • Get off! correct tick
    • The plumber turned the water off. correct tick
  • "Of" is most commonly used to show possession or to show what something is made of. (It is pronounced ov.) For example:
    • It is the wish of the fairies. correct tick
    • (Here, "of" shows possession. It tells us the wish belongs to the fairies.)
    • We were climbing a wall of ice. correct tick
    • (Here, "of" tells us what the wall is made of.)
Among English speakers, the confusion between "off" and "of" rarely occurs in speech. Any doubt over these words is usually eliminated by remembering how they are pronounced.
  • "Off" is pronounced off.
  • "Of" is pronounced ov.
off or of>

More about "Off" and "Of"

The words "off" and "of" are both prepositions. (Note: Here at Grammar Monster, we have found that explaining the grammatical functions of these words is not usually helpful because anyone who can understand the explanation rarely confuses the words.)

Off

The word "off" is the opposite of the word "on."

Example sentences with "off":
  • Turn it on. Turn it off.
  • Put it on the table. Take it off the table.
The word "off" is commonly seen as part of a phrasal verb, which is a single verb made up of more than one word. A phrasal verb has a main verb and an accompanying word (like "off"). The accompanying word can be either a preposition or a particle (a type of adverb).

When the accompanying word introduces a prepositional phrase, it is classified as a preposition. When it does not, it is a particle. For example (phrasal verbs shaded):
  • Wipe that paint off the wall.
  • (In this example, the prepositional phrase is "off the wall." The word "off" is a preposition.)
  • Stop showing off.
  • (Here, "off" is a particle.)

Of

Here are the four most common uses of the word "of":
  • (1) To show possession
    • The hand of God
    • A part of me
  • (2) To state what something is made of
    • A splinter of wood
    • A heart of gold
  • (3) To show what something contains
    • A cup of coffee
    • A plate of figs
  • (4) To show a point of reckoning
    • North of the wall
    • West of New York

Don't Write "Get Off Of"

With verbs like "to get off," "to live off," and "to go off," there is no need to add "of." With these verbs (called phrasal verbs), the "off" acts as a preposition. There is no need to add your own preposition (i.e., don't write "off of"). For example:
  • Get off the table. correct tick
  • Get off of the table. wrong cross

  • She lived off the land. correct tick
  • She lived off of the land. wrong cross

  • She is going off you. correct tick
  • She is going off of you. wrong cross

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See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? Ms., Miss, or Mrs? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What is a preposition? What is a prepositional phrase? What is a phrasal verb? List of easily confused words

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