I can't decide if both sentences are correct:

He left her out of the team. He left her off the team.

I believe that both of them are all right, but the answer key only lists the second one.

I encountered this sentence in my English class. The teacher simply read the answer key of our textbook and when I asked him if "out of" works too he simply said that if it is not in the key it doesn't, without providing any further explanations. However, I still believed that my answer was correct so I decided to ask.


2 Answers 2


I side with the answer key (second sentence). In general, the preposition idiomatic in English with "team" is "on". You are "on the team", or "off the team". Not usually "in the team" or "out of the team."

Of course in special contexts, it might be appropriate to use other prepositions: "He was assigned to the team." "Both players signed with the team." "I decided to take one for the team." In the situation you mention, it sounds like the speaker had a group of people he thought should be on the team, but the team captain "left one of them out", so in that case, yes, "He left her out of the team." It sounds fine.

But the normal idiom is "on/off a team".


The second sentence sounds like she was dropped from the team for the season, whereas the first sounds like they were picking teams and she was left out. The sentences are implying slightly different things, so one cannot be "better" than the other.

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