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There is a straw in a plastic wrapper as shown in the above picture.

There is a zigzag line on the side of the wrapper.

In order to take the straw out, we have to tear the zigzag line, not the top and bottom end of the wrapper because the id the purpose of the zigzag line for easy tearing.

Is it correct to say "tear the wrapper open by the side to take the straw out" or "tear the side of the wrapper off to take the straw out"?

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Tear the wrapper open by the side to take the straw out is fine - I think by sounds a little unusual here (most people would probably say at the side or on the side, or maybe from) but it works just fine!

Tear the side of the wrapper off to take the straw out also works - your English is fine, but what you're describing might sound unusual to people. Tear the side off sounds like you're removing the side of the wrapper, but really you're starting a tear at the side, and then ripping it all the way across, right?

So what you're tearing off is the top part of the wrapper, but you're beginning at the side - that's where you first make a tear, so I think tear the side of the wrapper to take the straw out (no "off") sounds perfect!

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  • I like the phrase "ripping it all the way across", which is exactly what I wanted to say – Tom Oct 12 at 3:53
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I am looking at the picture and see no zig-zag line. I do see a corrugated or ridged side. If that is where to open, I'd say

Tear the ridged side to open.

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  • I just want to say that zigzag is a good word to describe that shape, and line can be used to describe an edge or the shape it follows - it's just that it's figurative, so edge works better because it's the physical thing you're tearing. And it's common to have lines printed on things, especially to show where you need to tear them, so it might be confusing if people expect that but you're actually talking about something else! Just wanted to be clear about the nuance here. – cactustictacs Oct 12 at 3:40
  • This picture show the "zigzag border" and it looks like the picture above. i.stack.imgur.com/ClWa2.png – Tom Oct 12 at 3:52

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