15 Phrasal Verbs with the Preposition “Off”

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Many of you who are at the intermediate English speaking level still struggle with something called phrasal verbs. In today’s lesson, let’s look at 15 phrasal verbs with the preposition “off.”

What is a phrasal verb?

A phrasal verb is a verb that changes its meaning when you add a preposition like “off.” You know what the verb “take” means.  What about the phrasal verbs “take off,” or “take out,” or “take on?” These all have different meanings!

“Take off” means to depart on a plane, or to remove something.
“Take out” means to remove something from your house, or to bring food home from a restaurant.
“Take on” means to add another task to your list of things to do.

So “take a load off” – in other words, relax, and get ready to improve your English! Teacher Diane is going to show us how to use 15 phrasal verbs with the preposition “off.”

Learning How to Use Phrasal Verbs Will Give You Confidence

Phrasal verbs are very difficult to get used to, especially in the beginning when you’re not really familiar with them. Maybe you’ve heard of them, but you have no idea what the “off,” “on,” or whatever preposition is next to the verb actually means. I promise you that once you start noticing phrasal verbs in conversation, you are in a great place to start using them in conversation yourself.

The more you use phrasal verbs, the more advanced you will sound and feel.
The more advanced you will feel, it will give you more confidence when you speak.

Phrasal Verbs with “OFF”

I remember when i started learning phrasal verbs. The preposition “off” next to any verb was so confusing! The only meaning I knew was “turn off” the lights, or “turn off” the car. I didn’t know that phrasal verbs with “off” could have other meanings besides just removing power to something. Look at these examples:

I’ve been “off to a great start” this week.
John “lives off” of an investment that he made years ago.
Stacy “broke off” her engagement with her boyfriend last year.

With enough practice and patience, I was able to use them in conversation to the point where I felt that I was a lot more fluent. I even sounded more like a native speaker.

A Phrasal Verb is a Verb + Preposition

First, let’s start with a refresher. A phrasal verb is a verb plus a preposition. It has a meaning that sometimes changes depending on the context and depending on the verb.

15 Phrasal Verbs with the Preposition “OFF”

Let’s get started with my top 15 phrasal verbs using the preposition “off.” Pay close attention to the context, because this may change the meaning of the verb. When we’re finished with the list, we’ll have a little quiz so you can check to see how much you’ve learned!

1.  Nod off

“Nod off” means to fall asleep.

I nodded off during my meeting this morning.
Ali nodded off in class after lunch.

“Nod off” doesn’t mean to go to sleep in your room, in your bed. It just means that you’re sleepy somewhere besides your bedroom.

2.  Take off

“Take off” means to leave the ground, or to remove something.

The plane will take off soon.
Please take off your shoes at the door.
Charlie’s taking off from work to go on vacation.

3.  Take 20% off

You probably hear this a lot around Thanksgiving, when stores have their big sales. “Take 20% off” means that the price will be reduced by 20%. “Take 10% off” means that the price will be reduced by 10%.

4.  Lay off

“Lay off” means to be dismissed from a job temporarily, or to stop doing something.

Many people got laid off because of the pandemic. (“laid” is the past tense of lay)

When you use it to mean “stop doing something, it can sound more like a command.

Please lay off from listening to music too loud.
Please lay off from jumping on the bed.

5.  Call off

“Call off” means to cancel something.

We’re calling off my party because of Covid.
She’s calling off her engagement with her boyfriend.

With certain phrasal verbs like “call off,” you can add the noun, or what is being cancelled, between the verb and the preposition. Both are correct.

I want to call the party off.
They called the wedding off.

6.  Dash off

“Dash off” means to leave in a hurry.

I have to dash off; my kids are waiting for me at home.
Jamie dashed off to pick up her friend.

7.  Laugh off

This phrasal verb means to make a tense situation a little bit lighter.

Sam was embarrassed when she fell off her bike but she laughed it off.
I laughed it off after my friend made fun of me.

With this particular one we usually say “laughed it off,” with the word “it” in the middle. So you don’t say “I laughed off,” you should say “I laughed it off.”

To make someone feel better, you could say, “Just laugh it off.”

8.  Pair off

“Pair off” means to get into couples.

Pair off for today’s activity in class.
Pair off for dance class

With this one, you can also say “pair up.” Either one is perfectly fine.

Please pair up so we can do this activity.

9.  Sneak off

This means to leave without saying anything, or without announcing that you’re leaving.

Steven sneaked off because the party was boring.
I sneaked off after I saw my ex at the grocery store.

10.  Set off

“Set off” means to start a journey, or to trigger something.

We set off on our long hike at 7:00 am.
The raccoon set off the security alarm at the house last night.

11.  Go off

“Go off” means to explode, and also to explode emotionally, or get angry.

The bomb went off at 3:00 pm.
The gun went off accidentally.
I went off on the clerk for being rude to me.

12.  Be off

To “be off” just means to leave.

I’m off to Puerto Rico next summer.
He’s off to work in a few hours.

13.  Fight off

“Fight off” means to defend.

I fought off the guy who was trying to steal my purse.
The antibodies fought off the virus in my body.

14.  Put off

“Put off” means to avoid, delay, or postpone.

He put off the project to the very last minute.
She put off her wedding until next year.

15.  Show off

If you “show off,” you brag about being good at something.

Jake likes to show off his biking skills.
Emily shows off her singing skills all the time.

16.  Pay off

Here’s an extra one! “Pay off” means to get good results.

All the studying I did paid off.
It pays off to do a good job at work.


Time for a Quiz!

Now that we’ve gone through 15 phrasal verbs with the preposition “off,” let’s do a little quiz! I’ll give you 5 sentences, and you can decide which phrasal verb with “off” needs to go in the blank. If you can’t remember what the verb means, remember to look at the context of the sentence. But don’t worry! Rewind, refresh, and try again!

1.  Sam was embarrassed that she fell off her bike, but she _____________ it off.
2.  Emily ____________ off  her singing skills all the time.
3.  It  _____________ off to do a good job at work.
4.  I ____________ off on the clerk for being rude to me
5.  I have to ___________ off; my kids are waiting for me at home.


How did you do? Here are the answers:

1.  laughed
2.  shows
3.  pays
4.  went
5.  dash

Remember to practice, practice, practice so you can take your English to the next level! Learn the top 10 phrasal verbs in American English by clicking here! Don’t miss our fluency course – you can read about it here.  I hope this was helpful for you! Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you in the next video.

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