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General Writing and Grammar Help/Clothes - come off & fall off

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Question
Dear Ted:

When we talk about clothes, do they "come off" or "fall off"?

If both are possible, do they have the same meaning?

If not, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me some examples?

Thank you very much for your kind help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

When we talk about clothes, do they "come off" or "fall off"?

If both are possible, do they have the same meaning?

If not, when should I use each of them?

*** I would not use either of them.  Clothes are "removed."  They are also "taken off."

*** If a person has been on a diet and loses a great deal of weight, he may have the problem
of his clothes being too large for his body.  In such a case, his clothing COULD "fall off."

*** Some people may use "come off" in relation to removing one's clothing.  But "come off"
would be an idiom, used only in restricted geographical areas.

The basic problem with both of your verbs is that they suggest the clothing ITSELF is performing the action.  Clothing does not have the capability of "coming off" or "falling off," unless the circumstance are very strange.

Use "remove" instead of "come" or "fall."

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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