1

I have read it in a book:

He pulled the cap off of the marker.

Doesn't "pull off" show that the person removed the cap? Why to use "of"?

In another sentence in the same book it is:

He pulled off the cap.

Is there any difference in meaning of the both sentence? Does "of" add to the meaning somehow?

0

He pulled the cap off of the marker.

He pulled the cap off the marker.

He pulled off the cap/He pulled the cap off.

The first two sentences convey the same meaning; there's no difference. The phrasal/compound preposition "off of" instead of the preposition off without of, though disapproved by some people, is commonly used in informal American English. So there's nothing wrong with the phrasal preposition off of.

As for the third sentence, the "off" has been used as an adverb to say that the cap was removed by pulling it from something. you don't use this word as an adverb with "of". The said sentence is also grammatical. Some more examples are:

He shaved his beard off

Take your coat off.

So the difference between the first two sentences and the third sentence in question is that in the former case off and off of are prepositions whereas in the latter case off is an adverb. The former shows that the cap was removed by pulling it from the marker and the latter means that the cap was removed by pulling it from something not mentioned.

2

Off of is informal English, appropriate in fiction or everyday discourse. In formal English, we customarily dispense with the superfluous "of". It does not bring anything to the sentence but a syllable.

You will encounter of off everywhere in the U.S. in informal speech.

OED tells us that off of is "only colloq. (nonstandard) and regional", but there is nothing technically or grammatically "wrong" with it. However, it is an irritant to some native speakers and frequently cited as a "pet peeve". It is the bane of prescriptivists, especially because it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a rule-based objection to its use.

Mr. Doyle has written an entertaining digression on the subject on his Motivated Grammar site.

  • You can find "off of" in Samuel Pepys' diary. Two at random: "the King, sitting on his throne, with his speech writ in a paper which he held in his lap, and scarce looked off of it, I thought, all the time he made his speech to them" 27 July 1663; "to the Rose Tavern, and there got half a breast of mutton, off of the spit, and dined all alone", 18 May 1668 - there are probably plenty more. – Michael Harvey Oct 6 '18 at 10:58
  • @MichaelHarvey A very hip score, well played! I shall keep them close at hand in case a prescriptivist wants a right swatting. – P. E. Dant Oct 8 '18 at 3:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.