Don't be put off to change yourself to be better.

Did I use this 'phrasal verb' correctly? I just want to make it sure.

2 Answers 2


Put off can mean two very different things.

  • To put something off is to postpone it.

  • To be put off by something means that you find it disturbing or unpleasant.

It seems what you're trying to say in this sentence is: "Start changing yourself for the better now—don't wait." In that case, the sentence you want is worded like this:

Don't put off changing yourself for the better.

Note that:

  • be is gone—it doesn't belong here at all.

  • to change has switched to changing—when using put off in this way, you will follow it with the ‑ing form of the verb.

  • the ending idiom is to change for the better—your wording is understandable, but not typical.

  • I'd like to ask this so it can help me to totally understand 'put off' usage, which is likely to be used for my future conversation. Can you say: People are PUT OFF GOING to Afghanistan because of war-related problems. 'put off' + ing, as you've said.
    – John Arvin
    Mar 9, 2018 at 4:12
  • 1
    Yes, you can say that, but you'd probably be understating the situation. Saying that someone is "put off" doing something is a mild way of saying they've lost interest or that they are mildly uncomfortable with it. But you've got the grammar just right, and sometimes people do it the phrase to understate things purposefully. Also, you don't necessarily have to follow it with an -ing verb. It's often followed by a noun. "I've been put off pizza ever since I had one with anchovies a while ago."
    – spoko
    Mar 9, 2018 at 12:50

Your example

Don't be put off to change yourself to be better.

sounds incomplete without additional context.
The usual phrase would be

Don't be put off by something
Don't be put off (by the amount of effort) to change yourself to be better.

  • This is another way of 'put off' usage right. Can I say: ''Don't be put off by the difficulty of the exam to reach your life goals.'' Is this correct now?
    – John Arvin
    Mar 9, 2018 at 4:49
  • 1
    Yes, think of "put off" as being the same as "discouraged".
    – Peter
    Mar 9, 2018 at 9:47

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