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A)'She left school and went off with a group of people who were against the war'

B)'She left school and went with a group of people who were against the war'

what is the difference in meaning between sentence a and sentence b ?

''WENT'' VS ''WENT OFF''

1

"Go off" and "went off" have several meanings.

(see this at Merriam-Webster)

1 : explode

2 : to burst forth or break out suddenly or noisily

3 : to go forth, out, or away : leave

4 : to undergo decline or deterioration

5 : to follow the expected or desired course : proceed; the party went off well

6 : to make a characteristic noise : sound; could hear the alarm going off

The ESL Learner's Dictionary is more helpful:

(see this at the Merriam-Webster ESL Learner's Dictionary)

go off [phrasal verb]

1 a of a bomb : to explode

The building was evacuated before the bomb went off.

b of a gun : to shoot

The gun went off accidentally.

c of an alarm : to begin to make a sudden loud noise

I woke up when the alarm went off.

2 of lights, electricity, etc. : to stop working

The lights in the building suddenly went off.

3 : to leave a place for a new place

He went off to join the army after graduating from high school.
She went off to America.

4 a : to occur or happen

The meeting went off as scheduled. [=the meeting happened when it was scheduled to happen]

b : to happen in a particular way

The party went off well. [=the party was a success]
The meeting went off poorly.

5 US, informal : to begin shouting at someone in an angry way — usually + on

Her boss went off on her because she was late again.

6 go off (someone or something) British : to stop liking (someone or something)

She used to like him but now she's gone off him completely.
My boss has gone off the idea.

7 chiefly British a go off with (someone) : to leave a spouse, partner, etc., in order to live with and have a sexual relationship with (someone)

He left his wife and went off with [=ran off with] some young thing.

b go off with (something) : to take (something that belongs to someone else) away with you : steal

Someone went off with my pencil/wallet.

So, according to Merriam-Webster:

A) "She left school and went off with a group of people who were against the war."

Sentence A means that she left a place for a new place. (ESL definition 3)

or perhaps

Sentence A implies that she left school for another place--to do something disreputable. (like ESL definition #7)

B) "She left school and went with a group of people who were against the war."

Sentence B could mean that she joined a group of people who had certain beliefs--without actually going to any particular location.

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"went off with" carries an implication that the group of people went somewhere with a definite objective in mind - perhaps to hold a discussion, or join a demonstration, or perhaps just to show by sticking together that they share a common viewpoint.

"went with" lacks that impression of a shared motivation - they just left left school together.

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