What if a phrasal verb ends in the preposition needed to connect a noun?

The plane took off the runway. (The plane was ON the runway, and therefore preposition OFF is preferred)

The plane took off from the runway.

I wanted to use 'off' not 'from', but I have never seen double 'off'.

If I am on a plane, I will come off the plane at the end.

He licked the chocolate off his fingers. (It was on his fingers)

If a plane is on something, it will...off something.

That is why I want to use 'off', but since double 'off' is incorrect, I apparently have to enjoy preposition 'from'.

Here is what I found:

the 787 takes off of the runway - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2305539

  • 3
    Note there is another context where you might see a similar phrase: "the plane went off the runway in the thick fog". In this case, the plane never left the ground, but instead ran off the side or the end of the runway in poor visibility.
    – BradC
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 15:52
  • The Daily Mail caption appears to be a mistake - I think it's meant to be "takes off on the runway", or something like that...
    – psmears
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 9:20

3 Answers 3


First, the phrasal verb is indeed take off, which means:

take off (phrasal verb) To leave the ground and begin flight; to ascend into the air

Second, you can use a preposition after a phrasal verb:

The plane took off from the runway.

Third, we need to be careful about omitting the prepositions, because sometimes phrasal verbs can mean different things:

take off (phrasal verb) To remove

So, without a preposition, we could say:

The bulldozer took off the runway, leaving nothing but brown dirt.

Fourth, it is possible to use the same preposition found in the phrasal verb immediately after the phrasal verb; it's not "incorrect." So, if you really wanted to, you could say:

The plane took off off the runway.

However, I'd recommend rewriting that, for a couple reasons:

  • Although English doesn't have a rule strictly prohibiting identical consecutive words, they can still be awkward, so it's probably best to avoid them when possible
  • Since we know that airplanes normally take off using runways, adding the phrase "off the runway" doesn't really add much useful information

That said, there are other examples I can think of where the last word of a phrasal verb might match the proposition immediately following it:

  • The hotel was filling up fast, but we checked in in time to get a room.

  • He came around around twenty minutes ago.

  • I passed out out by the meadow.

  • She had no one to root for for the rest of the tournament.

Like I said, though, there are often simple ways to improve such sentences – which is probably one reason you don't run across them very often. For example, you can change the prepositional phrase or the verb:

  • The hotel was filling up fast, but we checked in early enough to get a room.
  • The hotel was filling up fast, but we arrived in time to get a room.

  • He came around about twenty minutes ago.

  • He wandered by around twenty minutes ago.

  • I passed out over near the meadow.

  • I fainted out by the meadow.

Or sometimes you can simply rearrange the sentence:

  • For the rest of the tournament, she had no one to root for.
  • 'The plane is capable of taking off on/from grass' - acceptable? Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 9:34

You are confused between 'verb' and 'phrasal verb.'

You are absolutely right that 'off' here means 'away'.

I was walking off the road - away from the road.

But the main verb there is 'walking.' Here, the main verb, in fact a phrasal verb is 'take off.' The 'off' is a part of the verb. Thus, you require the destination as well. Here, the place is 'runway.'


The plane took off from the runway.


Intransitive took off:

The plane took off.

With a locative phrase:

The plane took off from the runway.

With a temporal phrase:

The plane took off on time.

off is not a preposition there but part of the verb. took alone does not mean "left the ground".

A noun can be formed from the verb:

Refreshments were served twenty minutes after take-off.

P.S. There is no grammatical problem whatsoever when appending a valid prepositional phrase to any verb phrase, even if it is a phrasal verb:

They were carrying on on the dance floor, taking off their clothes.

The drunkard had passed out, but suddenly came to to everyone's surprise.

My car crapped out out on the interstate.

He's just phoning it in in his present job, which he hates.

If we all pitch in in earnest we'll get this job done pronto.


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