Misused Words

Of and Off

Of, a preposition, shows the relationship between two objects or a person and an object.

The color of the house was ugly.

The sentence shows the relationship between the color and the house. The sentence is not talking about the color of the car or the color of the shed but the color of the house. It tells us which color the sentence is describing as ugly.

Off, an adverb, means that something is not in its usual place or condition.

When the professor retired, he drove off into the proverbial sunset.

Though off does not tell us where the professor drove, it does tell us that he is no longer where he normally was found.

Avoid the use of the phrase off of, which is grammatically incorrect. Off means from, so it doesn't make sense to say He cleared the snow off of the roof, which means He cleared the snow from of the roof.

 He cleared the snow off of the roof.
 He cleared the snow off the roof.
 He cleared the snow from the roof.
Practice

Choose the correct answer for each of the two practice sentences below by clicking on the correct answer.

(1) The children (of, off) the family were very polite.

(2) The children raced (of, off) to enjoy themselves in the park.

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