flick ​[transitive] to press a button or switch quickly in order to turn a machine, etc. on or off SYNONYM flip

flick something He flicked a switch and all the lights went out.

flick something on/off She flicked the TV on.

flip ​[transitive] to press a button or switch in order to turn a machine, etc. on or off SYNONYM flick

flip something to flip a switch

flip something on/off She reached over and flipped off the light.

turn something off ​to stop the flow of electricity, gas, water, etc. by moving a switch, button, etc.

to turn off the light

They've turned off the water while they repair a burst pipe.

Please turn the television off before you go to bed.

switch off/on | switch something off/on ​to turn a light, machine, etc. off/on by pressing a button or switch

Please switch the lights off as you leave.

How do you switch this thing on?

The electricity has been switched off.

We only switched on halfway through the programme.

So, according to my study,

We can say "to flip / flick a switch" but we don't say "to turn a switch off"

We can say "I flipped / flicked the switch & the light went out"

But it seems we don't say "I flipped / flicked the switch off and the light went out"

But we can say "I flipped / flicked the light off"

And we can say "I turned the light off"

But it is NOT ok to say "I turned the switch off and the light went out"

Can we say "I turned the switch off and the light went out" and "I flipped / flicked the switch off and the light went out"?

1 Answer 1


English speakers can and do say all of those, including those you concluded that we can't or don't.

If you do an online search for the phrases with quotation marks, you should be able to find numerous examples of every possibility you mentioned.

Some people will have preferences, and some will have opinions about which are "correct", "more correct", "preferred", etc. But those will largely reflect differences in taste or opinion rather than data that can be supported by evidence.

Some of the alternatives may be more or less formal or informal, and some of them may be more common in various regions or in different varieties of English.

At this level of inquiry, it would probably be useful for you to state why you are interested in the differences, and to provide information about your learning situation (e.g., do you live in an English-speaking community?)

  • 1
    I am a non-native speaker, I am teaching English to my toddler. I want to use proper English structures. I don't want to use structures that native people may think those are wrong.
    – Tom
    Jan 22, 2020 at 12:52
  • There's no evidence of an advantage to teaching a child a language that young. See, for example, facebook.com/stephen.krashen/posts/3085193658166306. Perhaps in some special situation, or perhaps you just want to. Then, as I've written, people will use all of the expressions you've mentioned, at least some people, in at least some places, at least sometimes. The problem is you will often get "Which native people will think are wrong?" Certainly, there are things that are everyone will agree are wrong, such as flip I off switched, but none of the examples you gave are like that. Jan 23, 2020 at 5:51

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