I saw a sentence that made me wonder what the usage of "Off" is.

This is the sentence:

I love that she can make a living off playing video games

So what i understand is that "off" shows an activity but are there any other cases that we can use "off" in?

For example can i say:

I like that she can make a living off being a photographer.

  • I suppose it's okay, but I'd omit off (I'm not a native speaker, though). The most usual phrasing would be make a living as a <profession>.
    – user3395
    Jan 31, 2018 at 12:28
  • 1
    Your phrases are correct and they represent a very common usage of the word off. In the U.S. your phrases would be completely understood and would sound very American.
    – EllieK
    Jan 31, 2018 at 13:54
  • ... also very common in informal UK English for example the Beth Orton song: "There's nothing very funny/'bout a man making money/off a blonde haired blue eyed girl"
    – JavaLatte
    Jan 31, 2018 at 14:40

2 Answers 2


"Off" means approximately "out of", or "from" / "away from".

For example,

He needs to stop leeching money off his parents.

(He needs to stop always asking his parents for money, getting money from his parents.)

Sometimes "of" is added.

He makes a living off of suing people.

(used, for example, here)

But this is more colloquial and more typical for AmE.

Basing myself off of my previous experience, I expected this meeting to last at least two hours.

(taking my previous experience as a starting point, I'm taking from it that my next experience will turn out to be X) [real-life example of usage here]

"The Good Fight" (TV show) is a spin-off of "The Good Wife".

"Spin-off" is a noun, but here the meaning of "off" is also present: We have taken a previous show, and from it, we made a sequel.


In the first example, which I do not think is technically incorrect, you don't actually need "off" or @userr2684291's "as": she makes her living playing... There is something awkward sounding about it and also your second example, which again would be fine without the "off". The problem is using "off" with a present participle which just does not need the "off". If she made her living as a farmer, you would need the "off" in "I love that she can make her living off the land". Or if she were dependent on her rich parent:"She lives off her father". One does hear in all these contexts the two words "off of", a usage that Google ngrams shows has grown. Personally I would never use that, but it is a matter of personal taste, I suppose.

  • I was only commenting on the sentence they were asking about, the second one, not on the first one (which I took as correct). Although, as you said, off could've been dispensed with in the first one as well.
    – user3395
    Jan 31, 2018 at 13:47
  • There was nothing wrong with your suggestion. I did not mean to say so.
    – JeremyC
    Jan 31, 2018 at 13:49

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