Should it be

Last years data set contains information that the reports can work off


Last years data set contains information that the reports can work of


  • 1
    Which one do you think it should be? – Barrie England Nov 14 '12 at 15:57
  • 6
    Clearly it's "information that the reports can work off of". – RegDwigнt Nov 14 '12 at 16:00
  • 3
    I didn't think reports were able to work; reports are simply produced for people to use. – Andrew Leach Nov 14 '12 at 16:01
  • 3
    from, goddamnit. I'll hear no more of this off of. – Matt E. Эллен Nov 14 '12 at 16:36
  • 2
    @MattЭллен: Have it your way: "information that the reports can work from off of." – Robusto Nov 14 '12 at 16:45

(The earlier question “Based on” instead of “based off of” covers some similar ground).

Some people (myself among them) dislike "Data the reports can work off of", but that's not one of OP's proposed alternatives, so let it pass.

Of OP's two, "of" would never be acceptable. For many people, "off" would be okay, but I think most would prefer "with", "on", or "from". My preference is for...

"Data the reports can work from"

There's not necessarily any semantic/grammatical argument for any particular preposition here, and all those I've emboldened (apart from of) are actually used by competent speakers. But I personally feel it makes more sense for actual programs to work on or with data because they do "more" with that data. To some extent, reports can be said to just list data from a database.

(I changed OP's "information" to "data" because I think one of the purposes of reports is to turn data into [accessible] information.)

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  • I think that reports in the OP example does refer to people: subordinate staff are sometimes referred to as reports because they report to someone else. It's BizSpeak I particularly hate, so I called it out; but so far @MichaelDurrant hasn't qualified its use. – Andrew Leach Nov 15 '12 at 17:26
  • @Andrew: If that's the case then it's an absolutely appalling question! I've never come across that meaning - how on earth could OP expect us to assume it? It doesn't affect my answer though - if that "perverse" sense of "reports" was in fact intended, my answer clearly implies that on or with would be at least "slightly better" choices from my point of view. But that's effectively a personal stylistic choice, and all alternatives would remain "valid" and could reasonably be used by competent speakers (which is more than I can say for that BizSpeak meaning! :) – FumbleFingers Nov 15 '12 at 18:16
  • no, no, it is data. I guess you were thinking 'reports' as in 'direct reports', i.e. the people that report directly to someone else, but no this is not what I meant at all, I meant reports for data :) I'm accepting 'for' – Michael Durrant Nov 15 '12 at 21:39
  • @Michael: I think your last word there must be a typo. Regardless of whether the "reports" are people or documents, they can't work for "information". – FumbleFingers Nov 15 '12 at 22:33

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