I'm just a beginner. So, I'm sorry for my bad English. I bumped into a question on Instagram onto a page created for people who want to improve their English skills. The question was " All the lights in the building suddenly went...? A) off B) out C) down " The correct answer was A but I didn't get it. So I was just wondering what is the difference between went out went off and went down.

  • 1
    "went" is the past simple tense of go, so look up the meaning of "go off/out/down“ in any online dictionary. Try Lexico or Merriam-Webster
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 25, 2021 at 11:13
  • Lights go off or out. Computers go down. Jan 25, 2021 at 11:26
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    @KateBunting, the lights can "go down" in a theater, before the start of a movie or play. Jan 25, 2021 at 11:44
  • @whiskeychief Very true - I hadn't thought of that one. Jan 25, 2021 at 12:35
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    I'd say the test is wrong. "off" and "out" are both correct. In fact, I think "out" is even a little better. "The lights went off" is what you would expect to happen when you flip the switch at the end of a work day, for instance, but if "the lights went out", we have no idea why, and the test question included "surprising", so I'd have chosen "out"
    – gotube
    Jun 2, 2021 at 20:03

2 Answers 2


Lights go off when people (or timers) make that happen using a switch.

Lights go out when there is a power failure or other accident.

Lights go down when they dim. That happens in a theater when the play is about to start.

To me, in your question, the "suddenly" suggests a power failure. The lights went out. I would choose (B).


I think using "went off" is related to "turn off lights", which means the light is turned off.

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