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  1. #1
    dilodi83 is offline Senior Member
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    Default to fall off vs to drop off

    Dear teachers and native English speakers,
    I have a doubt about the meaning of these two phrasal verbs - to fall off and to drop off, specifically when they're used in business context.

    I looked their meanings up and that's what I found:

    to fall off: when the quality, degree or frequency of something decreases.
    1 Ex. Sales of fountain pens fell off after ballpoint pen was invented.
    2 Ex. The quality of his work has fallen off as he has gotten older

    to drop off: when a business's sales, the occurance of some event or the interest of some people have in something decreases or declines. It also be used when the quality of something gets worse.
    3 Ex. After CDs were introduced, sales of records dropped off sharply.

    I think that 1 and 3 are very similar in meaning...so, how to distinguish these two verbs? how to use them correctly?
    Thanks so much.

  2. #2
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: to fall off vs to drop off

    2 and 3 are very similar if not identical. That doesn't mean these two phrasal verbs are interchangeable. In different contexts one or the other may be more appropriate. 'Fall off' tends to be more gentle. "Last year, sales fell off by 5%, but it was not nearly as bad as 2003 - when they dropped off by nearly 50%. [It was as is they'd dropped off a cliff.]" (You'll note that the increased violence of the change is reflect by the second use of 'dropped off' - where it is not a phrasal verb at all but a prepositional one).

    The only way to distinguish them is to read as much as you can, and consult dictionaries - several (as you would consult a doctor - always keeping in mind that other opinions need to be considered).


    b

  3. #3
    billmcd is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: to fall off vs to drop off

    Quote Originally Posted by dilodi83 View Post
    Dear teachers and native English speakers,
    I have a doubt about the meaning of these two phrasal verbs - to fall off and to drop off, specifically when they're used in business context.

    I looked their meanings up and that's what I found:

    to fall off: when the quality, degree or frequency of something decreases.
    1 Ex. Sales of fountain pens fell off after ballpoint pen was invented.
    2 Ex. The quality of his work has fallen off as he has gotten older

    to drop off: when a business's sales, the occurance of some event or the interest of some people have in something decreases or declines. It also be used when the quality of something gets worse.
    3 Ex. After CDs were introduced, sales of records dropped off sharply.

    I think that 1 and 3 are very similar in meaning...so, how to distinguish these two verbs? how to use them correctly?
    Thanks so much.
    In the context posted I consider "to fall off" and "to drop off" interchangeable, but as a substitute for either one you could use "declined" if you are uncertain in the future.

  4. #4
    charliedeut's Avatar
    charliedeut is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: to fall off vs to drop off

    Hi,

    If you want to avoid a phrasal verb to mean "declined rapidly", I personally always liked "plummeted".

    charliedeut
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

  5. #5
    billmcd is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: to fall off vs to drop off

    Quote Originally Posted by charliedeut View Post
    Hi,

    If you want to avoid a phrasal verb to mean "declined rapidly", I personally always liked "plummeted".

    charliedeut
    I can't argue with the alternative "plummeted", but its use would suggest to me a dramatic/sudden/sharp decline and I would see it as OK in #3. but not necessarily for #'s 1 & 2.

  6. #6
    charliedeut's Avatar
    charliedeut is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: to fall off vs to drop off

    Quote Originally Posted by billmcd View Post
    I can't argue with the alternative "plummeted", but its use would suggest to me a dramatic/sudden/sharp decline and I would see it as OK in #3. but not necessarily for #'s 1 & 2.
    That's why I specified "rapidly"
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

  7. #7
    billmcd is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: to fall off vs to drop off

    Quote Originally Posted by charliedeut View Post
    That's why I specified "rapidly"
    Your "rapidly" doesn't appear with "plummeted", but if it did, I would see it as redundant.

  8. #8
    charliedeut's Avatar
    charliedeut is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: to fall off vs to drop off

    Quote Originally Posted by billmcd View Post
    Your "rapidly" doesn't appear with "plummeted", but if it did, I would see it as redundant.
    But it does with "decline". Thus, "decline rapidly" = "plummet"
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

  9. #9
    billmcd is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: to fall off vs to drop off

    Quote Originally Posted by charliedeut View Post
    But it does with "decline". Thus, "decline rapidly" = "plummet"
    I surrender.

  10. #10
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: to fall off vs to drop off

    You both seem to have grasped the rapidness implied by 'plummet' (!), but as an exercise in vocabulary development you might be interested to know that 'plumb-line' - a weight on a string, used to find a vertical line - is related. This is where the idea of rapid decline comes in: you can't get a more rapid decline than a vertical drop.

    (The silent b - from Latin plumbum [=lead - the metal, that is] - looks to me like a scholarly addition [like the b in 'debt'])

    b

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