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Dialog:

Guy: How long have you been drawing?

Woman: For a few years.

Guy: Really?

Woman: Yeah. On and off.

The expression "on and off" used in contexts like this sounds very odd to me, but would it be totally idiomatic to you? (dictionaries say it would) Or would another expression be more likely?

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  • It's fine, even if it seems 'odd' to you. Feb 14, 2022 at 14:27
  • Yes it would. be Feb 14, 2022 at 14:27
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    Idiomatic yes. Grammattically correct no since it's not a complete sentence. Maybe you are tripping over that?
    – Dan
    Feb 14, 2022 at 14:57

1 Answer 1

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  1. Yes, it's an established phrase. Note, it can also be "off and on".

  2. As Dan suggests, you might be responding to the fact that it's used here as a sentence fragment. Though, note, there's nothing wrong with that in the context of this dialogue. We often "break up" sentences when we converse, omitting parts that are covered by earlier sentences. For instance,

    Person A: Where do you live?
    Person B: Here.

    This is understood as shorthand for "I live here." Similarly, in your example, the woman's full sentence is understood as "I have been drawing, on and off, for a few years," even if the parts of that sentence are distributed across several lines of dialogue.

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