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Normally, dictionaries suggest using "take/have a bite (of something/out of something)" but not "take/have a bite off something".

So, we normally say "take a bite of the loaf" or "take a bite out of the loaf".

But I remember some native speaker in this forum say "I tore a piece off the loaf" or "I tore a piece from the loaf".

But I can see the similarity between "take a bite" and "tear a piece".

Why can't we say "take a bite off the loaf"?

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"Take a bite off the loaf" is perfectly fine.

It's a perfectly grammatical sentence, and it would mean that you are taking a loaf of bread and biting right into it, without cutting or tearing it up into smaller pieces first. The reason why it's not normally said is because English speakers don't usually eat bread that way - but if you bought a loaf of French bread that was intended to be eaten straight away, you might.

Conversely, if you say "tore a piece off the loaf", you're usually implied to have done so using your hands unless the context says otherwise.

As for the difference between "take a bite off of", "take a bite out of", and "take a bite off of", I would say that the differences are fairly subtle (and judging by the answers to another question on the English Language SE, possibly dependent on national dialect). "Take a bite of" can be used in contexts where you're not biting something off or out of something, like a bowl of porridge; it often refers to the consumption of a single bite of food rather than the act of biting into something. For "bite out of" vs "bite off of", they're fairly close in meaning, and do refer to the act of biting into something to eat it, though you'd take a bite out of the side of something, while you'd take a bite off of its top.

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  • But when you "take a bite of the apple", you don't mean "you cut or tear the apple into smaller pieces before eating it" but "you just eat the apple straight away" – Tom Apr 22 at 3:52
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    @Tom Yes. The same thing applies to a loaf of bread, if you're just biting down into the loaf the way you would an apple. That's what "take a bite of" means. It's just that that isn't the normal way that most English-speakers eat bread, aside from things like French bread or certain types of garlic bread. – nick012000 Apr 22 at 3:55
  • But this question is about using "off" or "of", so "take a bite off the apple" or "take a bite of the apple" is correct? Many native speakers say "take a bite of the apple" is idiomatic because we emphasize on eating the apple, maybe have another bite one after another, while "take a bite off the apple" just focuses on taking a bite off and it does not emphasize on eating or even having another bite after the first bite. But it's more confusing because we can say "take a bite out of the apple", maybe because the apple fresh is seem as the inside part of the apple. – Tom Apr 22 at 4:51
  • @Tom Okay, I've edited my answer to address the differences between "bite of", "bite out of", and "bite out of". Does that help? – nick012000 Apr 22 at 9:16

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