I use the phrase 'get off' to mean "just finished." For example:

I just got off watching the movie.

I just got off reading the novel.

This is inspired by phrases like these:

I just got off the phone.

I just got off work.

I looked my phrases up and did not get a lot of relevant hits. My question is: do they make sense to a native speaker? Or they need to be modified?

  • 2
    Okay... I'm not going to write up a full answer to this, but let me just say this since no one else has: No, native speakers do not speak like this, and it's actually possible that you'll be misunderstood to mean the slang version of what you're saying, which you absolutely do not want. So I wouldn't continue doing this.
    – WendiKidd
    Sep 15, 2013 at 23:30
  • @WendiKidd: I just got off reading your comment. (8: Sorry! :) Sep 16, 2013 at 1:17

1 Answer 1


By and large get off is proper in two circumstances:

  • When the idiom for the activity which you’re ending involves being on something. We speak of being on the telephone or on the treadmill or going on line, so it makes sense to end these by getting off.

  • When the idiom for being uninvolved in the activity is expressed with off. We speak about being off work or off duty, of being off rhythm or off our feed, so it makes sense to enter those states by getting off.

But the idiom is not ordinarily extendable to other situations. And you have to be careful. As Wendi Kidd has discreetly pointed out, get off has an explicitly sexual meaning, to achieve orgasm; and although that meaning is frequently extended to non-sexual activities in the sense “experience a rush of excitement”, or even simply “enjoy” (I get off on answering ELL questions), it’s still not a meaning you intend. If you say “I just got off reading the novel” people will probably think you are making a different mistake than the one you’re actually making!

  • In Br Eng, to 'get off' doing something is also to avoid having to do it; essentially a replacement for 'got out of'. 'I got off reading the book', in the right context, could easily mean 'My teacher gave me a book to read but I came up with a good excuse not to have to'. Equally, 'I got off maths/games/etc' Edit I came up with another - 'to get off scot-free' - to avoid a penalty/tax/jail etc. Nov 26, 2014 at 7:38

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