separable phrasal verb: put off


Today’s phrasal verb is “put off”, and it has four meanings. The first three are a little similar, but the last one is quite different.

1. to postpone something. For example:

I can’t come to the meeting at 3:00. Can we put it off until 4:00?

The meeting has been put off until 4:00. (passive voice)

It’s raining now, so I’m going to put off my barbeque until next weekend.

The barbeque will be put off until next weekend because of the rain. (passive voice)

2. to delay doing something we don’t want to do. For example:

You should go and tell Bob that he’s fired now. You can’t put it off forever.

You should go and tell Bob that he’s fired now. It can’t be put off forever. (passive voice)

You need to clean up the basement today! You’ve been putting it off for far too long!

3. to persuade someone to agree to a delay. For example:

I can put off the boss for another two days or so, but that’s it. We’ll need to have made a decision by then.

The boss can’t be put off for much longer. We have to make a decision soon. (passive voice)

I’ll try to put off my teacher for two more days, so I can finish writing my paper.

4. for someone’s manners or behavior to make other people uncomfortable. For example:

Jerry is a very blunt person. He can really put people off with some of the comments he makes.

People can be really put off by Jerry’s bluntness. (passive voice)

The way my sister’s boyfriend was talking to her really put me off. I hope she doesn’t keep dating him.

I was really put off by the way my sister’s boyfriend was talking to her. I hope she doesn’t keeping dating him. (passive voice)

So, as you can see, we often use this phrasal verb in the passive voice. This is especially true for the last meaning. It’s very common for people to say, “I was put off by…”. If you don’t know what the adjective “blunt” means, I wrote a blog about it last year.

If you want to look for any particular words or expressions on my blog, don’t forget there is a search function at the top.



  1. praiffs Said:

    What’s the diffrence between these sentences?? 1. He saw me open the book. 2. He saw me opening the book. . Do these sentences have same meanings?? Should i add ‘ing ‘ in verb? please tell me the meanings of these.. THANKS

    • There is a small difference in meaning. We use the base form to say that we hear or see the whole of an action. We use the -ing form to say that we hear or see an action while it’s happening. Therefore, if we say “He saw me open the book”, we mean he saw me perform the complete action of opening the book. If we say, “He saw me opening the book.”, it means that when he looked at me, I was in the process of opening the book. I hope that’s clear.


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