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This context comes from the movie "Ford vs Ferrari" It's a scene in which one of the characters sells a car to a customer.

customer- You take cash? Is cash okay?

seller- Cash is okay.

seller-Yeah, mister, you just bought yourself one hell of a sport car.

seller-I'll tell you what, I'm gonna...Phil. I'm gonna pass you off to my colleague

(When he is saying Phil, he is beckoning another employee so he can take care of the customer and the seller can start doing something else.)

I know that "pass" means: b. To hand over to someone else: Please pass the bread.(source:American Heritage® Dictionary)

And I believe this is basically the meaning here. He is going to hand over the client to someone else, so that person can take care of the client and finish the process of selling the car. But he says "I'm gonna pass you off" and I cant find a definition for a phrasal verb "pass off" meaning "to hand over" so I assume that this isn't a phrasal verb but a verb "pass" and "off" is simply a preposition.

"off" prep: c. Informal From: "What else do you want off me?" (Jimmy Breslin).(source: Collins English Dictionary)

Is this the correct definition for the preposition off in this context? Does the sentence mean:I'm gonna hand you over from(meaning from him) to my colleague?

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  • 2
    In this case, it is something like "pass you on" or "hand you off"
    – Esther
    Aug 9, 2022 at 21:57
  • 1
    The fact that "off" doesn't have an object suggests that it probably isn't functioning as a preposition. Did you try to look it up as an adverb? Aug 10, 2022 at 0:06
  • Pass off or hand over are phrasal verbs.
    – Lambie
    Jan 22, 2023 at 17:50
  • So far as I'm concerned, being passed off to a colleague carries the implication that the person saying that views me as a burden. I expect to be passed on or over to a colleague. Aug 25, 2023 at 18:11

2 Answers 2

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to hand or pass someone off to someone

Think of a relay race: in a relay race, one runner passes the baton off to the next runner. That is probably the origin of this phrase. The person is like a baton and one shop employee is passing the customer off to another employee, just like in a relay race.

Hand off and pass off are the same thing here.

And yes, the meaning is the same as "hand over the customer to another employee". "hand over something to someone" is another way to say this.

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If we look at these phrases:

  1. I'll hand you over to my colleague
  2. I'll pass you over to my colleague

then 1. definitely sounds natural and so does 2.

If we then look at these phrases:

  1. I'll hand you on to my colleague
  2. I'll pass you on to my colleague

then 3. seems natural enough, though 4. definitely sounds the more natural of the two.

Finally, if we look at these phrases:

  1. I'll hand you off to my colleague
  2. I'll pass you off to my colleague

then, again, 5. sounds natural enough although... 6. sounds a little bit odd (not spectacularly odd, but a little bit odd).

Of the six phrases, I'd argue that 6 sounds the least natural. But since all six phrases are pretty close, you can see how an individual might say 6. instead of any of the other five and not worry too much about it.

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  • You're just comparing a limited number of similar sentences, and asking which one sounds 'better' (which seems completely subjective): how is this a proper answer?
    – Joachim
    Sep 22, 2022 at 13:33
  • It's not about which sounds better. The phrasal verb to pass someone off to someone has, in this context, been deployed (arguably inappropriately) as a substitute for the phrasal verb to hand someone off someone to someone. In the answer above I have explained why this has happened: similar phrasal verbs using the prepositions over and on are interchangeable.
    – Rounin
    Sep 22, 2022 at 19:23

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