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Let's suppose you are in a shop. You see that the shop owner has divided their goods in too parts. One which is off and one which is not! You admire one T-shirt and need to try it on, but first you have to make sure if it is off or not. (The stand that that T-shirt belongs to, doesn't belong to one of those two divisions and it’s not clear if the t-shirt which is on that stand has a discount or not!) What a native would ask then?

  • Does this t-shirt include a discount too?
  • Does this t-shirt include off too?

These were the only ways which I cam up with, but if these sentences sound not idiomatic, I wonder if you could help me t realize how shall I edit them?

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    We do not say that an item is just off, the word all by itself, to mean that it is discounted: a quantity is required, such $2 off or 25% off or something off. Apr 12, 2014 at 18:45

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The idiomatic expressions are "on sale" or "on clearance." Something on sale is simply being sold at a reduced price, something on clearance has the price reduced because it's a little older and they want to "clear it out" of the store to make room for newer items. It's common, for example, in clothing, when they want to get the winter clothes out of the store so they can make room for the summer stock.

You can always ask "Is this t-shirt on sale?" and that would include asking whether it's on clearance. I mention the difference because you will see it on the store signs, and it basically means the same thing, that the price is discounted.

Now, "Does this t-shirt include a discount?" is perfectly correct, and will be understood, but it would sound like it came out of a language textbook. "Does this t-shirt include off?" is not correct; "off" can't function as a noun here. It's easy to see why you are a bit confused about this; signs everywhere will talk about "50% off" and so on, but this means "50% off of the list price". So, the "off" isn't the discount, the discount is the amount off of the price.

We use "something off" to mean something off of a price. For example, "I like that refrigerator, but I'm going to need you to take something off (of that price) before I can see my way to buying it."

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  • Thank you very much Bob for the informative post; but would you please tell me who can I use the word "off" in an identical sentence with the one you mentioned (Does this t-shirt include a discount?) I need to know whether there is another substitution for this sentence of you using "off" or not? Thank you in advance.
    – A-friend
    Apr 12, 2014 at 14:46
  • @StoneyB Yes, good point. I was also going to mention this and forgot: to say an item is "off" means that something is wrong with it. For example, if the pocket were sewn onto the back of the shirt, the shirt would certainly be off. That's more of a British term, as well.
    – BobRodes
    Apr 12, 2014 at 14:51
  • @A-friend: "Does this t-shirt have something off (the price)?" If you don't add "the price" to the sentence, you could convey the meaning in my above comment if the context weren't clear. Also, "Can you give me something off on this t-shirt?" means that you are asking for a discount. Which, by the way, we don't generally do with t-shirts in our culture.
    – BobRodes
    Apr 12, 2014 at 14:53
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    thank you very much for your good attention. :) Just as far as I understood you meant: - That shop sells everything off. --> (Wrong) - That shop sells everything at discount. --> (Correct bunt not idiomatic) - Everything in that shop is on sale. (Correct and idiomatic) So what's my mark on the quiz? ;)
    – A-friend
    Apr 14, 2014 at 5:06
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    Full marks. Bravo! Now, to "sell off" something means to sell a group of things until there is nothing left. For example, "I'm going to sell off my Star Wars collection" means that I'm going to sell my collection piece by piece until it is all gone. As you can see, there is no implication of a discount here. I wanted to mention this to avoid any confusion about it. Using "off" to mean discount has to do with the idea of "Take an amount off of the price." So if you use off in this way, you have to pair it with an amount: 50% off, $1000 off, and so on.
    – BobRodes
    Apr 15, 2014 at 19:46

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