'Of' and 'Off'



 

          It has come to my attention that people often confuse these annoying little words.

 

          They may look much the same, and sound exactly the same, but they have different meanings and uses.

 

OF

          This word describes a relationship between things.

 

          So you might say, 'It's a matter of law.'  This means that whatever is being discussed is related to law, or belongs to the law.

 

          We say, 'The Queen of England' because we are speaking of the relationship between the Queen and England.  They are linked.  The Queen belongs to England and England - supposedly - belongs to the Queen.

 

So - the centre of town.

NOT 'the centre off town'.

 

OFF

          This word is used when we are talking of things being separated or removed from each other, or of something being ended.

 

          So we say, 'Take off your coat.' - The coat is being removed from the person.

 

          'He took the hat off the peg.' - He removed the hat from the peg.

 

          We can say, 'Turn off at the next junction.'  That is, leave this road.

          Or, 'Switch off the computer.'  That is, end your session on the computer.

 

          Or we could say, 'The King's head was cut off.'  The king's head was removed from his body.

 

So - 'Take your feet off the table.'

NOT - 'Take your feet of the table.'

 

          If I may be allowed a little rant -  you NEVER need to say 'of off'.  When you take your feet off the table, you remove them from it. That's all that needs to be said.

         Your feet were never 'of' the table.  They never belonged to it, so to add 'of' is completely unnecessary.  The phrase 'of off' is awkward, ugly and incorrect.