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 Post subject: Re: What do you say
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 8:13 am 
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Enjay wrote:
However, again, context could alter it.

That's so true - context is everything, so trying to comment on a single sentence in isolation is always going to be a hit or miss situation.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you say
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:21 am 
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"Tom stood up and knocked all of the glasses off the table."
"Tom kicked the table and all of the glasses fell off/down."

Someone told me that "fall off" in the second sentence gives the same result "knock off" in the first one. However, "fall down" doesn't. So can you explain the difference between glasses or whatever falling off and falling down?


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 Post subject: Re: What do you say
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 5:11 pm 
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kaliope wrote:
"Tom stood up and knocked all of the glasses off the table."
"Tom kicked the table and all of the glasses fell off/down."

Someone told me that "fall off" in the second sentence gives the same result "knock off" in the first one. However, "fall down" doesn't. So can you explain the difference between glasses or whatever falling off and falling down?

The first sentence implies that Tom made a deliberate action to knock the glasses off the table, but both forms of the second sentence suggest that the glasses falling down/off was an accident. The difference between fall off and fall down is that off means the glasses fell off the table but down means they stayed on the table but fell over.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you say
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 7:59 pm 
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Yup.

Fall off - the "off" refers to the table (they fell off the table). The table is clearly identified as the object being fallen off of by the structure of the words surrounding the "fell off" bit.

Fall down - the "down" refers to the orientation of the glasses. They are no longer sitting upright but there is no implication that they fell off the table.

However, it is possible to fall down from something, but you'd often have to specify from what. i.e. the glasses fell down from the table would give it a similar meaning to "fell off". However, I think that sounds a little bit strange (though not too bad) in this context. It would sound much less strange in a sentence like "the glasses fell down from the shelf" IMO. (Though "off the shelf would still be fine too.)

And just to add it in to the mix, you could fall down from a tree, or out of a tree but you would not generally fall off of a tree - but you could fall off of a branch.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you say
PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 3:15 pm 
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And if I stop holding something, the thing will fall or fall down? For example, a pen.


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 Post subject: Re: What do you say
PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 4:25 pm 
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kaliope wrote:
And if I stop holding something, the thing will fall or fall down? For example, a pen.

In this case I would use fall since it's clear that it would fall down so down is redundant.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you say
PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 7:55 pm 
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This is really hard to understand. What things and when fall and what things and when fall down. You said above that a glass 'falling down' may in fact just 'fall over' and stay on the table. The Cambridge dictionary gives this example "The picture keeps falling down" - So here the picture clearly fell some distance. :(


Last edited by kaliope on Mon Sep 02, 2019 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: What do you say
PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 12:05 am 
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I think that this is a situation where finding a hard and fast rule that covers everything will be difficult and, as much as anything, it's experience that let's you know what sounds right.

As Dave said, when simply dropping a pen, it can only really fall down, so saying "it will fall" sounds fine. However, in the case of the picture "falling down", just "falling" on it's own doesn't sound right. However, if I tripped while walking, each of "I fell over", "I fell down" and "I fell" could sound OK.

I'm trying to figure out in my head what the difference is. I think it's that the pen can only fall when you let it go, and that doing so is expected. The picture, on the other hand, isn't meant to fall and it is falling off of something (from a wall hook, or maybe it's a standing picture that is falling down on a table like the glasses in the earlier example) so the "down" kind of implies that.

For what it's worth, I discussed this exact problem (the various examples of falling from this thread plus others) with my sister today. She is eminently qualified to discuss it: she is an English graduate, has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language and even lives in Poland! Basically, we really only got as far as having slightly differing opinions as to which examples sounded the most natural, were both able to come up with exceptions and we agreed that "it's tricky". Image


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 Post subject: Re: What do you say
PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 8:00 am 
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Enjay wrote:
I think that this is a situation where finding a hard and fast rule that covers everything will be difficult and, as much as anything, it's experience that let's you know what sounds right.

In English there are no hard and fast rules, I well remember my Grammar school English teacher telling us (back in the 1970's), with a huge smile on her face, that the First Rule of English is ............."ignore all the other rules"!

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 Post subject: Re: What do you say
PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 9:01 pm 
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Do the four replies sound natural and mean the same?

A: Why don’t we go to the game after work?
B: Can’t make it. I’m having my in-laws over tonight.
B: Can’t make it. I’m having my in-laws round tonight.
B: Can't make it. My in-laws are coming round tonight.
B: Can't make it. My in-laws are coming over tonight.


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