The Grammarphobia Blog

OFF and ON

Q: I just thought of something. When an alarm goes OFF, it actually goes ON. English is a funny language, isn’t it?

A: You’re right—we turn ON an alarm so it will go OFF, and then we turn it OFF when it goes ON. We also fill IN a form that we’re told to fill OUT. And people who are IN luck say they’ve lucked OUT. No wonder that people new to English have so much trouble with prepositions!

Yes, English is funny, which reminds me of something my mother-in-law used to say: “Is that funny ha-ha or funny peculiar?” In this case, it’s probably both.

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