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Is there any difference between dry and *dry off? For example:

Let the fruit dry (off) before eating.

I cannot see any difference, but I am very curious to know what would make native English speakers go for dry off when dry is a bit shorter. What flavor of meaning does off add there?

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In my experience the phrase dry off (as opposed to dry it off) is generally used (intransitively) when evaporation serves to dry a person/creature or object, as in:

Give me a few minutes to dry off after my swim.
Make sure that the dog dries off before it comes inside.
Leave the umbrella outside to dry off.
Hang these clothes on the line; they will soon dry off in the sun.

although the off is optional in the last two examples. It is also optional in the following examples in which the phrase is split:

Dry yourself off with this towel.
Dry the car off with the cloth.

Dry - without off (whether adjective or verb) can be used in any context. Often, it's just a matter of choice.

https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/dry-off

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  • Also, Dmytro's sentence presumably does not refer to drying fruit in the sense of evaporating away its internal moisture, just to getting rid of any surface dampness. – Kate Bunting Feb 4 at 14:59
  • I am sorry, but... So let's say I want the moisture to be removed from the surface of the fruit by laing in the sun. Do I say "let the fruit dry" or "let the fruit dry off"? – Dmytro O'Hope Feb 4 at 19:23
  • Let the fruit dry off makes it clear although let the fruit dry is grammatically correct. You could be clearer still by adding outside or in the sun. – Ronald Sole Feb 4 at 23:24

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