I was in a chat conversation with a close friend and, in quickly swiping over my keyword, made a typo, which reads:

I am off the opinion we should inform him.

What I meant was:

I am of the opinion we should inform him.

but she interpreted the negative meaning out of it. Her interpretation was that:

We shouldn't inform him.

because there was 'off', which she believed would negate the whole sentence.

So my questions are:

  • Is she right in her interpretation?

  • Can the 'off' in

I am off the opinion.

negate the whole sentence?

  • If so, in oral communication, how do I make out if the speaker is referring to 'of' or 'off'?

I tried to Google it without luck. I could not find anything that would support her argument, nor anything that would prove she was wrong.

May be a native English speaker can help with this problem.

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    There is no such thing as I am off the opinion in English, and your friend's interpretation is simply something she made up on the spot to try and comprehend the sentence. – VTH Aug 25 '18 at 11:18
  • @VTH - It could be a legitimate stab at interpreting the remark, which would not be unusual for a learner. But perhaps that’s a matter better discussed at English Language Learners. – J.R. Aug 25 '18 at 12:54
  • What is the difference between 'I am of the opinion' and 'I am offffffffffffff ttttttttttttttthe ooooooooooooooopinion'? – listeneva May 15 at 3:42

"Off the opinion" is not idiomatic. If someone wrote that they were off some opinion, many native speakers would be inclined to seek clarification unless the correspondent was prone to odd phrasings or had great facility with metalepsis.

Nevertheless, we can read your question as asking what it would mean if the friend considered your use of “off” as intentional. The rest of this answer proceeds on that basis.

Here's the natural sense of your use of “off”, albeit figuratively in your case:

off preposition 3 So as to be removed or separated from. ‘threatening to tear the door off its hinges’ - ODO

Your friend is correct that an intentional use of “off the opinion” would be understood as a contrast to “of the opinion”. The sense is that you were previously of a particular opinion, but you are now distancing yourself from that opinion.

You also asked about how to distinguish between "of the opinion" and "off the opinion" in speech. The former is idiomatic and the latter is the marked form, so you can expect that if someone wanted to use "off" in that manner, they'd emphasise the word - perhaps saying "off" slightly louder than expected, holding the word a little longer than expected, leaving a slight pause after the word, or even spelling it out: "I am off the opinion, oh-eff-eff, ...". The enunciation might be nuanced but the human ear is remarkably capable of picking out such emphases, especially in a conversation between native speakers.

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    I wouldn’t go so far as to call the friend “correct.” I think most native speakers would sense a typo rather than a change of mind. If I had changed my mind about something, that’s not how I’d say it, and if I wanted to leave some place, I doubt I’d ever announce, “I’m off the opinion that we should stay.” About the only part of this answer I can support is your opening: "Off the opinion” is not idiomatic. – J.R. Aug 25 '18 at 9:50
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    +1 off the opinion is not idiomatic and rarely used. Not sure why this answer had a negative score. It is accurate as far as I can see. – Lumberjack Aug 25 '18 at 10:38
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    I guess if I saw someone type "off the opinion" in this context I would ask for clarification, as it is likely a typo. – Lumberjack Aug 25 '18 at 10:40
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    "Off the opinion" is technically legitimate, meaning "no longer of the opinion". But, as several have stated, it's not idiomatic and (absent some hint during verbal delivery) too easily taken to mean "of the opinion" to be good for everyday use. – Hot Licks Aug 25 '18 at 12:18
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    In the right context, where the meaning is obvious, I would consider it idiomatic. I'm off eggs for breakfast this morning. Right now, I'm feeling grumpy and off that opinion. It's certainly not usual, but it's understandable. (Can something be contextually idiomatic? Isn't that part of the definition of idiomatic anyway? Maybe it's idiomatic in a niche sense . . .) – Jason Bassford Aug 25 '18 at 16:31

In AmE, to express the sense of off the opinion one would say, as in this OED example:

1722 W. Wollaston Relig. of Nature ix. 181

I am not of opinion..that virtue and prudence can always..mend a strait fortune.

Or I am not of the opinion, your opinion, prevailing opinion etc.

"not of the opinion" in google books: Facing the Limits of Law 2009

This does not mean that I am not of the opinion that criminal law cannot do better in its dealings with victims of crime.

Your question: How do I make out if the speaker is referring to 'of' or 'off'? I would suggest the use of the clarification: you mean not of.

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