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Which should be used: of or off?

It is a branch of/off the main tree.

The actual context is program code branches and in that context the plural branches is not suitable.

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closed as general reference by MετάEd, Cameron, tchrist, Lunivore, Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Oct 10 '12 at 13:46

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You can be in a branch of the main tree. This would imply that you are in a branch that has already been created.

You can also branch off from the main tree. This would imply that you are creating a new branch and separating from the main tree.

The ODO provides a couple of examples from mainstream usage:

Sophie was in the branches of a tree eating an apple

the road branched off at the market town

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+1 In the context of programming: (1) I'm working in a branch of master (2) Why don't you create a branch off master and work there – David Laing Aug 17 '12 at 8:44

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