Is 'off of' ever a valid substitution for 'from'? For example,

'It's that guy off of Friends.'

Would it ever be acceptable to use this construction in formal written English?

I live in the West Country (UK) and I hear this construction frequently.

  • 1
    You hear it everywhere, and it's becoming increasingly common among younger speakers. But I think most Brits who associate it with a geographical area would think it's more "American" than "West Country UK". As the original question shows, some people think it's ungrammatical - so if you want to avoid getting their backs up, it's best avoided in formal contexts. Unless you're prepared to "stand your ground" and defend it, which I personally would. Jun 26 '14 at 15:11
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    @FumbleFingers Yes, quite. In relation to the duplication, wouldn't you agree that mine's the better question as it doesn't ask "why it's wrong"...
    – thecrease
    Jun 26 '14 at 15:20
  • I'd be more inclined to say you are the better questioner, since you do at least acknowledge that the usage may in fact be "valid". Actually, I'm surprised so few people have answered/commented/voted on that original, but it's a hardy perennial here on ELU (as that link shows, we even have a tag specially for it). Jun 26 '14 at 15:27
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    It used to be that bloke off the telly but it does seem to have morphed in to that bloke off of the telly these days. But it only seems to work for some things that bloke off of the German team ... doesn't work for me, from works OK.
    – Frank
    Jun 26 '14 at 18:08
  • @FumbleFingers: despite being frowned upon in RP, "off of" has been used in the U.K. for many years. See Ngram. I have no idea what regions of the UK it was used in, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were West Country. Jun 26 '14 at 18:16

See the discussion referenced by @FumbleFingers for views on the general appropriateness of the term off of.

As to whether it can be substituted for from depends on context.

The term off of suggests that something is being obtained or moved.

I got that data off of the internet.

They took the book off of the shelf.

In these cases, from would be equally appropriate (and for many, preferable).

I got that data from the internet.

They took the book from the shelf.

When referencing something's place of origin, but not suggesting duplicating or moving, from can be used, but off of would sound off.

That character is from the Friends TV show.

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    If you get something off the table, you’ve simply displaced it, like a dead bird that your cat dragged in. “Get that off me!” On the other hand, if you get something off of the table, you’ve fetched something from that table.
    – tchrist
    Jun 26 '14 at 15:45
  • @tchrist I do not disagree that off and off of may mean different things. And that off and off of are differentially related to from. I am not a fan of off of, in general, but seek to answer the question posed (accepting that some accept off of).
    – bib
    Jun 26 '14 at 16:05
  • Everyone has their own language. I reported mine.
    – tchrist
    Jun 26 '14 at 16:53

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