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Author Topic: 'of' vs 'off'  (Read 724 times)

sevenlayermuddle

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'of' vs 'off'
« on: July 21, 2020, 02:09:25 PM »

Other half caught me composing an email ordering some stuff, listed in columns...

2 off <a thing>
5 off <another thing>
3 off ...etc

She challenged me, it should be "of" not "off".   :o

I have always used "2 off", etc when composing parts lists such as that.  I'm pretty sure my old English teacher once taught me that, whilst counter intuitive, "off" is correct in that very specific context.  But after resorting to Google, I'm finding only limited evidence to support my usage.  :-[

Would anybody wish to take sides in this domestic dispute?






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roseway

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Re: 'of' vs 'off'
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2020, 02:35:06 PM »

I certainly agree with you that 'off' is common (even normal) usage. But perhaps, more normal syntax is:

widgets: 5 off

rather than

5 off widgets?

PS: I certainly wouldn't say "5 of widgets". That makes no sense; the 'of' is redundant.
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  Eric

vic0239

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Re: 'of' vs 'off'
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2020, 03:09:11 PM »

I was about to jump in with both feet siting the fictional character in Star Trek: Voyager: 7 of 9 as being definitive proof, but knowing the Forum thought I'd better check. The dictionary on my Mac states: 
Quote
mainly British (with preceding numeral) denoting a quantity produced at one time
so looks like both are acceptable.
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Alex Atkin UK

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Re: 'of' vs 'off'
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2020, 03:40:56 PM »

Never heard it being used that way.  After all, its "2 of a kind" not "2 off a kind".

I certainly agree with you that 'off' is common (even normal) usage. But perhaps, more normal syntax is:

widgets: 5 off

rather than

5 off widgets?

PS: I certainly wouldn't say "5 of widgets". That makes no sense; the 'of' is redundant.


Surely you'd say "5 widgets", as like you say any more words are redundant.
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sevenlayermuddle

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Re: 'of' vs 'off'
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2020, 03:56:52 PM »

I was about to jump in with both feet siting the fictional character in Star Trek: Voyager: 7 of 9 as being definitive proof, but knowing the Forum thought I'd better check. The dictionary on my Mac states:  so looks like both are acceptable.

I was sitting at my Mac when composing the original email, didnít know it could do that. :-[

I would be interested to hear more on the Star Trek suggestion, it means nothing to me.
I certainly agree with you that 'off' is common (even normal) usage. But perhaps, more normal syntax is:

widgets: 5 off

rather than

5 off widgets?

PS: I certainly wouldn't say "5 of widgets". That makes no sense; the 'of' is redundant.

Yes youíre right, transposing the columns is probably better syntax.  Maybe that is what I was taught, but only partly remembered.


Never heard it being used that way.  After all, its "2 of a kind" not "2 off a kind".

Surely you'd say "5 widgets", as like you say any more words are redundant.
In the context I formed the habit as a youth, Iíd probably have been ordering electronic components, with a description that is quite long winded and already includes numbers.   For example,

4 off 27k 1/4W resistor.   

The Ďoffí is a useful separator.   But Iím now thinking it is also likely that I would actually have used Ericís syntax.  I have no evidence however, and no old copies of communications.  In those days, such letters were simply written in my neatest teenage handwriting, keeping at most just a messy carbon copy that was soon discarded.

Other comments still welcome, but I currently feel no need to back down in my domestic dispute.   ::)

Ps: It did occur to me to compare it to the phrase describing a unique event as a ďone-offĒ?
« Last Edit: July 21, 2020, 03:59:08 PM by sevenlayermuddle »
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roseway

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Re: 'of' vs 'off'
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2020, 04:09:38 PM »

I rather think that the use of 'off' in this context probably originated long ago in parts lists on engineering drawings. In that context it was formal usage, whereas "5 widgets" is what we would say in conversation or informal prose.
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  Eric

roseway

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Re: 'of' vs 'off'
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2020, 04:16:31 PM »

I would be interested to hear more on the Star Trek suggestion, it means nothing to me.

Briefly, 7 of 9 was a nameless member of a small group within an enormous predatory organisation. (She just happened to be very sexy too, but that's television for you). So the numbers were identity numbers, not quantities.
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  Eric

Alex Atkin UK

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Re: 'of' vs 'off'
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2020, 04:54:50 PM »

Briefly, 7 of 9 was a nameless member of a small group within an enormous predatory organisation. (She just happened to be very sexy too, but that's television for you). So the numbers were identity numbers, not quantities.

Both really, as she WAS 7th out of 9 in her unit.

This whole alternative use of off (you see there) just makes no sense to me as off in that context would be to mean subtraction surely?
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sevenlayermuddle

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Re: 'of' vs 'off'
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2020, 05:12:04 PM »

Both really, as she WAS 7th out of 9 in her unit.

This whole alternative use of off (you see there) just makes no sense to me as off in that context would be to mean subtraction surely?

A possible origin of the phrase, I have discovered, is to refer to a number of items being consumed, and correspondingly being removed from an inventory which needs to reflect the removal.  As in an abbreviation for  '5 off the shelf' which maybe makes more sense?

Briefly, 7 of 9 was a nameless member of a small group within an enormous predatory organisation. (She just happened to be very sexy too, but that's television for you). So the numbers were identity numbers, not quantities.

Thanks, I have clearly led a sheltered life.
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Alex Atkin UK

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Re: 'of' vs 'off'
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2020, 05:20:21 PM »

A possible origin of the phrase, I have discovered, is to refer to a number of items being consumed, and correspondingly being removed from an inventory which needs to reflect the removal.  As in an abbreviation for  '5 off the shelf' which maybe makes more sense?

Thanks, I have clearly led a sheltered life.

In that context yes, makes perfect sense.
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kitzuser87430

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Re: 'of' vs 'off'
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2020, 07:34:52 PM »

The columns on my spreadsheet for pricing up jobs.

Part no, Description, No Off, Price each,Line total

Everyone else in the office think I am incorrect in using "Off"

Ian
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sevenlayermuddle

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Re: 'of' vs 'off'
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2020, 07:42:07 PM »

 :)
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vic0239

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Re: 'of' vs 'off'
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2020, 09:40:57 PM »

I was sitting at my Mac when composing the original email, didnít know it could do that. :-[

I would be interested to hear more on the Star Trek suggestion, it means nothing to me.
Using my Magic Trackpad, cursor placed over the word of interest, a deep press invokes the definition/dictionary/thesaurus.

Apologies for assuming we are all Star Trek fans. :-[ Reference to 7 of 9 here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_of_Nine

Iím currently rewatching the entire Voyager series on Netflix, Captain Janeway was a particular ďfavouriteĒ of mine when the series first aired many years ago!  ;)
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kitz

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Re: 'of' vs 'off'
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2020, 09:49:27 PM »

I always thought it was 'of'  :-[

as in 5 of this and 6 of that.

But then again you have one off events. 
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d2d4j

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Re: 'of' vs 'off'
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2020, 10:29:51 PM »

Hi

Iím tired but briefly reading this thread

To me itís simple

I would use 2 of carrots and turn the light off

Many thanks

John
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