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he's been tasked with surveying Quarray. so he took off a minute ago.

I'm wondering if "took off" can be used as simply "left". and also, Is this sentence grammatically correct?

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    Yes, took off means left in this context. – ColonD Oct 31 '18 at 13:09
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In the context presented, took off can reasonably replaced with left. In other cases, the context will be important to determine meaning as they both have a few definitions.

take off verb
transitive verb
1 : REMOVE

take your shoes off

2a : to take or allow as a discount : DEDUCT

took 10 percent off

b : to spend (a period of time) away from a usual occupation or activity

took two weeks off

c : RELEASE

take the brake off

d : DISCONTINUE, WITHDRAW

took off the morning train

3 slang : ROB

intransitive verb

1a : to start off or away often suddenly : SET OUT, DEPART

took off for her trip

b : to leave the surface : begin flight
c : to spring into wide use or popularity
d(1) : to branch off (as from a main stream or stem)
(2) : to take a point of origin
e : to begin a leap or spring
f : to embark on rapid activity, development, or growth
2 : to take away : DETRACT
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/took%20off


leave verb
\ˈlēv \
left\ ˈleft \; leaving
transitive verb
1a(1) : BEQUEATH, DEVISE

left a fortune to his son

(2) : to have remaining after one's death

leaves a widow and two children

b : to cause to remain as a trace or aftereffect

oil leaves a stain
the wound left an ugly scar

2a : to cause or allow to be or remain in a specified condition

leave the door open
his manner left me cold

b : to fail to include or take along

left the notes at home
the movie leaves a lot out

c : to have as a remainder

4 from 7 leaves 3

d : to permit to be or remain subject to another's action or control

just leave everything to me

e : LET
f : to cause or allow to be or remain available

leave room for expansion
left myself an out

3a : to go away from : DEPART

leave the room

b : DESERT, ABANDON

left his wife

c : to terminate association with : withdraw from

left school before graduation

4 : to put, deposit, or deliver before or in the process of departing

I left a package for you
leave a message

intransitive verb
: SET OUT, DEPART

left for the office at eight sharp
leave alone

: to refrain from bothering, disturbing, or using

Leave him alone while he's doing his homework.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leave

Whenever you can find a meaning in both of these, then you can replace them. The replacement is not always direct. For example, you could say:

She took two weeks off.
She left for two weeks.

The difference in meaning is sometimes subtle and may not always be an issue.

  • Your formatting makes these definitions very hard to read. Please try to make them closer to what you see on the site you took them from. Start with a much less liberal use of ">>" in your markdown. – Robusto Oct 31 '18 at 13:49
  • Feel free to edit the answer to make it more readable for yourself. I couldn't find a good way to do bullets inside a quote. – Ian MacDonald Oct 31 '18 at 13:50

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