Why do people use "off of" so much

I am quite unsure about the technical difference between “off something” and “off of something” but would it not suffice to say, “take a left off Sherman St.” instead of “take a left off of Sherman”? Why this love affair with making English more complicated? Do people think that is the right way to say it? What is the deal here?

I have wondered the same thing. Off is a preposition and putting of after it would seem to be doubling up the prepositions. I very rarely do the doubling up thing.

I say, “Get off the sofa” vs “Get off of the sofa” but I have heard people say the latter.

I can’t think of a single instance where of would need to follow off in order to make the meaning clear.

Redundant but common. Like when the kids ask me “where is mom at?” instead of simply “where is mom?” The meaning is clear although a needless word is uttered.

The usage seems to be common enough in US English, but I think most non-US speakers would regard “off of” as not merely redundant, but wrong. “Off of” is not an acceptable variant of “off” and a parent or teacher, for example, would probably correct a child who used “off of”.

When it crops up in Britain, it seems to be more a dialect thing than the actual inclusion of an extra word…more “offa” than “off of”. “Onna” instead of “on” crops up occassionally - and there’s no way they’re saying “on of”.

There is an analogous situation with “get off” as in “derive pleasure”. For instance, “He gets off on it,” is a very common expression, or the taken aback, “It isn’t like I get off on it!” This in particular happens when words get grouped into a common expression, like “put up” meaning “bear”, as in, “I won’t put up with it.” I wonder if the kind of double preposition in the OP is a form of hypercorrection from this kind of use.

By the same token, what about ‘onto’? You could just say ‘on’. Likewise, ‘out of’. You could just say “Get out the car”, or “Get out the way.”

I’m not sure I understand your objection. If we wanted to streamline the language, there are surely better ways to do it.

[Moderator Hat ON]

More of an IMHO thing, IMHO.

[Moderator Hat OFF]

If you find yourself hearing this a lot, perhaps you should get off of people before they have to say something.

Just a thought.


Did I miss something? I have NEVER heard anyone say this in my life. If I am giving directions to someone…I normally say “take the xzy exit”, “turn right/left at market street” etc.

Could this be a regional thing? I grew up in Dallas, Texas and have never heard this term used.

It’s fairly common: “turn off of the highway” “get off of the bed” etc. It’s an idiom, so it can’t be called incorrect except by anal retentive language purists.

As for being redundant – so? Language is full of redundancies.

I think the word “of” helps to clarify the meaning. I can say, “turn right off the road.” Does this mean I should get off the road, then turn right? (i.e. “right, off the road”). Or does it mean I should turn quickly/sharply (i.e. turn “right off”)? The phrase “off of” helps clarify the positional meaning, i.e. I am turning right, from my present road, to another. Likewise, we say, take a right “onto” (not “on”) Sherman, because we are not currently on Sherman yet.

Maybe people like saying “off of” instead of “off” because the extra beat that the “of” provides is melodious. It’s good to be melodious!

Maybe by analogy with “get out of the bed”?

I thought “onna” was really “on the”.

Something of a WAG, but I think “off of” arises from the speaker’s desire to emphasize that the motion is not only “off” the thing mentioned, but then “away from it” as well. Also, “off of” emphasizes that motion is involved, while “off” by itself may not. In this respect it’s like “into” vs. “in”. For example: “I used to live on Brockton Avenue, right off Wilshire” (although I could imagine someone saying “off of” here too).

I think something like this must be what’s happening in a descriptive grammatical sense; I don’t know if that makes it ‘correct’ or not.

I use them both.

Example: To the dog.
“Get off the bed.”
She stays put.
She gets off (of) the bed.

It’s a matter of emphasis, I guess. I’ve never thought about it before, and the only person I’ve ever met who actually corrects “where are you at” is my aunt the elementary school principal. I don’t like the redundant “at”, but I’m not a nazi about it.

Don’t get me started on nucular, though. :smiley: