On several occasions, someone has asked me where I purchased my shirt and I replied with "I bought it offline."

It didn't sound right to me.

My brain thought that I bought it 'off' of something (as in "I bought it off craigslist"). But the noun 'online' confused me (I couldn't remember the name of the website). "I bought it off online" just doesn't work, and"I bought it offline" sounds like you didn't purchase it on the internet.

However, "I bought it online" doesn't quite satisfy me either, I am not sure why :P.

Is one more correct than the other? Is there an all around better sentence?

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    Did you mean when you said "I bought it offline" that you bought it off the internet? 'offline' cannot mean 'on the internet'. It means metaphorically 'when not connected' (either to the internet, or more commonly nowadays when giving a main presentation to refer to after the presentation ('Let's talk about this offline.') – Mitch Nov 30 '11 at 13:50

Only the phrase "I bought it online" is correct.

Saying that you bought if offline indeed makes no sense (unless, perhaps, you intended to make some sort of joke). "I bought it off online" doesn't make sense so avoid that one.

If you don't like the phrase "I bought it online" you could say "I bought it on the internet" or "I bought it from an online store". "I bought it off the internet" is also an option if you prefer to use the word "off".

  • I'm not sure how I didn't think of "I bought it off the internet." Thanks – MrZander Nov 29 '11 at 22:54
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    Some of my friends say "offline" frequently, when referring to something "off the internet". It irks me. – Polynomial Dec 1 '11 at 11:16
  • You could have avoided this altogether by simply naming the store. – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Mar 28 '12 at 18:05

I bought it online is correct, with online being used as an adverb. I bought it offline would mean that you bought it while not connected to the internet which is clearly not the case.


"I bought it online" is generally the phrase I would use, or "I bought it while online," or "I bought it from an online store," to distinguish it from a bricks-and-mortar store (which is what "I bought it offline" would suggest to me).


This is interesting because my boyfriend caught me saying “I bought this t-shirt offline the other day”. And since I am studying Semantics at the moment it made me really think what the word I was saying meant.

I see it as two separate words “I bought this t-shirt off line the other day” so like the sentence “I bought this off eBay the other day” means from, i.e., “I bought this from eBay the other day”. Or “I bought this off TV” (people say this – and it’s a similar problem). Thus in this context the off line really means “off online” or “off the internet”. Where offline is the opposite of being online, I think off-line or off line indicates that you bought something that was on the Internet — but now that you bought it, that very t-shirt is no longer on the Internet so it seems to make sense to say you bought it off-line which means “off the line”, “off the Internet”.

Rather than online being a state, it is more of a noun phrase “line/the internet” and like “I bought this off the television” the the is dropped for ease of speech.

So I think it works and it’s neat. There are plenty of words in the English language that have different semantic meaning in different contexts. eg. “I am meant to be finding treasure at the moment” vs “I’m finding this difficult right now” (not a great example, but I hope you get my drift).

It’s interesting how technological advances affect and modify our speech.

  • I'm not sure about the correctness of "I bought this off online" as that sentence would be using online as a noun. You could say "I bought this off the internet" though. – zooone9243 Oct 4 '12 at 10:33
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    A standalone line all by itself does not imply online. The semantics discourse is very interesting and purposeful though. In this particular case of 'online / offline', off line still fails to convey the sense of 'off the Internet'. – Kris Oct 4 '12 at 10:33
  • The only valid dictionary definitions of online are as an adjective or adverb, it is incorrect to use the word as a noun. – zooone9243 Oct 4 '12 at 10:40

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