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    #1

    live off and sponge off

    1 He lives off/sponge off his parents because he doesn't have a job.
    2 Teenagers live off their parents till they are 18.
    3 He is a lazy bones. He does want a job because he sponges off his parents.

    Do "live off" and "sponge off/on" mean the same or does a native speaker use them with different meaning?
    On the basis of some sentences I read it sounds like the former has a positive meaning and the latter has a negative meaning. Could you please explain it to me?
    Thanks

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: live off and sponge off

    1 He lives off/sponges off his parents because he doesn't have a job.
    2 Teenagers live off their parents till they are 18.
    3 He is a lazy bones. He doesn't want a job because he sponges off his parents.

    In this context, the two have basically the same meaning. The latter is more negative than the first, but the first is not positive.

    Both phrases can have different meanings in different contexts.

    John is an organic farmer and he lives off the land.
    Mary lives off campus.
    The Wilsons live off Highway 101.

    The pediactrics nurse carefully sponged off the baby.
    A chamois was used to sponge off the water.
    MarK went fishing for sponges off the Florida coast.

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    #3

    Re: live off and sponge off

    I see #2 as neutral because there's no element of scrounging there, but the other two are negative, and sponge off is stronger.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: live off and sponge off

    Well, I agree up to a point. The "live off' part implies some level of parasitism. Otherwise, it would probably just say supported by their parents.

  3. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: live off and sponge off

    I agree that "live off" has an overall negative connotation. No one expects a 12-year-old to pay his or her own way in life, and I wouldn't say he is "living off" his parents.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #6

    Re: live off and sponge off

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    Well, I agree up to a point. The "live off' part implies some level of parasitism. Otherwise, it would probably just say supported by their parents.
    Supported by would be a better choice, but as the sentence says till they are 18 the writer appears to be using it neutrally. I can't see the dependency of childhood as parasitism.

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: live off and sponge off

    I get your point.

  5. Raymott's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: live off and sponge off

    "Live off" doesn't always have this negative connotation.
    "I lost my job, so I'm living off my savings." "I lost my job, so I'm living off any small odd jobs that I can get."
    When it comes to "living off" someone else, that changes to less socially acceptable. Babies and toddlers also "live off" their parents, but we would rarely say a sentence like because the negative connotation is unfair to young chidren. Saying "The physically handicapped young man is still living off his parents" is likely to cause objections from some people.

  6. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: live off and sponge off

    I think we see the phrase "live off of" similarly. Because of our medical backgrounds, when it come to living off a person or animal, it brings up fleas, lice, ticks, tapeworms, etc.

  7. Raymott's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: live off and sponge off

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    I think we see the phrase "live off of" similarly. Because of our medical backgrounds, when it come to living off a person or animal, it brings up fleas, lice, ticks, tapeworms, etc.
    I'd never say "living off of". I would assume that a tick that was living off of a person was not living on that person; but a tick can live on and hence 'off' a person. There's a conundrum.

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