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  • I usually download music off the web.
  • I usually download music from the web.

What is the difference in between off and from in these sentences?

Which one is more suitable in this context?

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    Either sounds OK to me. There is no real difference. Yes, "off" and "from" are different prepositions, but the way they are used in this instance denotes the same thing: the world wide web is the source of the music you are downloading. You are getting music off the web or from the web. Again, either is OK. – rhetorician Mar 30 '13 at 5:23
  • Agreed. If there is any distinction at all, I would say "from" is marginally preferable here, if only because "off" suggests that the thing being taken "off" was originally "on" in a fairly physical way (like a hat on a person), and that's not quite how music exists in regard to the web; it's more "within" the web. (These are subtle and somewhat artificial distinctions, admittedly.) – John M. Landsberg Mar 30 '13 at 6:49
  • What about this? I got the book off Helen... I got the book from Helen I got the book off the shelve... I got the book from the shelve – user58572 Nov 30 '13 at 17:19
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"Off" implies it was taken away or removed, but realistically it was probably copied. "From" makes best sense.

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I guess I feel more strongly than the other commenters here that from is far and away the most appropriate preposition.

Off is far more colloquial, and in my experience frequently inappropriate for the context in which it is used. This would be one of those contexts; I would take off the internet to mean literally disconnected from the internet, which naturally precludes downloading anything.

As a software developer, I frequently find myself in situations where it is unavoidable or even necessary to isolate a machine from its local network or the wider web. Speaking naturally, if a friend or colleague were to say 'off the web' I would usually decipher their intended meaning from the context but edge cases like this highlight why it is unnecessary to introduce ambiguity where it can be easily avoided.

Frankly, even I download music on the web would be more accurate than '...off...'.

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