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    #1

    to fall off the shelf VS to fall from the shelf

    I consider the sentence
    A book fell off the shelf.
    as a typical example of the preposition off usage. But recently, an American acquaintance of mine said that the preposition from suits too:
    A book fell from the shelf.
    Is it true? It destroys all my harmonious knowledge of English.

  1. Piscean's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: to fall off the shelf VS to fall from the shelf

    There is nothing wrong with 'fall from', though we normally use that preposition for a literal fall when something falls from one place to a lower place - the book fell from the shelf (on) to the table.

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    #3

    Re: to fall off the shelf VS to fall from the shelf

    I’ve got it. For example:
    Several books fell off the shelves during the earthquake.
    But
    My favorite statuette fell from the shelf onto the floor and broke.”
    OK?

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    #4

    Re: to fall off the shelf VS to fall from the shelf

    OK, but from is fine in #1 as well, and off is also fine in #2.

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    #5

    Re: to fall off the shelf VS to fall from the shelf

    That’s great but the problem is that in this case the test with these sentences doesn’t make sense because both ‘off’ and ‘from’ suit and I can’t catch the student.

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    #6

    Re: to fall off the shelf VS to fall from the shelf

    What does 'I can't catch the student' mean?

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    #7

    Re: to fall off the shelf VS to fall from the shelf

    It means that any answer ‘off’or ‘from’ is correct regardless of the context and the test which I conceived doesn’t make sense.

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    #8

    Re: to fall off the shelf VS to fall from the shelf

    North, prepositions are often illogical in English and often more than one is possible.

    If you ask a question where "from" and "off" are both possible and you plan to mark one wrong, you have created a bad question.

    We (in these forums) are often highly critical of those types of questions.
    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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    #9

    Re: to fall off the shelf VS to fall from the shelf

    Although I disagree that prepositions are often illogical, I do agree that your test answers should be unequivocal if you want to "catch the student."

    Basically, you could think of it like this:

    • on goes with off

    If something is on the shelf, it can fall off the shelf. These refer to its position in relation to the shelf.


    • from goes with to

    If something falls from the shelf, the shelf is the starting point of a journey, or a change of position. The end point of the journey is signified by to.

    The word onto is a combination of on (position) and to (end point). So if something falls onto the floor, we know where it is (i.e. on the floor) and we also know that it arrived there from somewhere else.

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    #10

    Re: to fall off the shelf VS to fall from the shelf

    Both are grammatically correct. Choosing the right one depends on your context.

    Example 1
    "Why are you in trouble"?

    "Well, I was putting an really expensive crystal vase on the shelf for display...".

    "Yeah, and"?

    "Ah, I knocked it off the shelf, and it shattered on the floor".

    Example 2
    "Hey dude, you look white as a sheet"

    "No kidding. That brick just missed my head"!

    "Did someone throw it at you"?

    "No, I think it fell from the 10th floor".

    Summary
    Your choice depends on where you want to focus. If you want to make a point about what an object's origin was, you would talk about where it came from. If you want to make a point about why it is no longer at its point of origin, you can about how it was pushed/slid/fell/vibrated off the origin point.

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