Dry/Dry off

GandalfMB

Senior Member
Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
Hello everyone,
"He did the laundry and hung it out to dry". Instead of "dry", can I say "dry off"? According to the definition provided by Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary it is possible. I know that sometimes people use words differently and that's why I am asking. Does the sentence "He washed the barrel and let it dry off"., make any sense to you?

Thank you and Merry Christmas
 
  • Chris K

    Senior Member
    English / US
    I think "dry off" in the sentence about the barrel would be less idiomatic than "dry out." Neither one is required but we English speakers do love our phrasal verbs.

    "Hung it out to dry" is usually used without the preposition following.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Hmm...do you mean that "Hung it out to dry" is a set phrase? I love the phrasal verbs too, Chris, even though I am not familiar with 100% of them. When we talk about the inside of a container we should use "dry out", just like we use "wash out" when we wash them. Thank you for reminding me. By the way, if instead of a barrel I say "shoes, plates etc", would it be okay to say "dry off"? When you put the plates on to the drying rack, you leave them to dry off, or not?

    Thank you, Chris
     

    srk

    Senior Member
    English - US
    There are other threads on this subject. The one I linked to makes a point I would make: The "off" in "dry off" or "wipe off" refers to water on surfaces. One dries off a wet counter using a cloth to absorb the surface water. Damp clothing hung out to dry does not fit the description.
     

    Chris K

    Senior Member
    English / US
    Yes, "dry out" for things that have an interior that can hold water, "dry off" for things that have a surface that can be wet, and "dry" for things that are soaked through and through (like wet clothes).

    We usually (at least in the US) hang clothes "out to dry." But you will probably find a fair amount of variation between regions and even between speakers about which forms are most natural.

    As a side note, "to hang someone out to dry" is a also an idiom meaning, more or less, "to leave someone exposed to punishment or unpleasant consequences."
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Dry out makes sense when we talk about damp clothes, because the fabric absorbs water. If "dry off" can be used only when we talk about wet surface, can I use it about plates, then? I presume you use "dry out" when you talk about pots, sauce pans, pans, bowls etc. Am I wrong? If we put them on the drying rack, will they dry off/dry out? On one hand they are containers, on the other hand only the surface is wet, what do we say?
    On Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary I came across "We dried off our boots by the fire"? Why not out? Does that mean, that only the surface of the boots was wet?
     

    Chris K

    Senior Member
    English / US
    Your boots could "dry out" if they were wet inside as well as out.

    Flat plates "dry" or "dry off." I'm not sure that I've ever heard anyone say that cups or glasses "dry out," but it's not impossible.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    When people use a towel, they "dry up". You can wash up the dishes and I will dry up. Makes sense to me, but which one sounds better to you in the "dish" context? "Dry or Dry off", when you place them on the drying rack.

    Thank you, again :)
     

    Chris K

    Senior Member
    English / US
    When people use a towel, they "dry up". You can wash up the dishes and I will dry up. Makes sense to me, but which one sounds better to you in the "dish" context? "Dry or Dry off", when you place them on the drying rack.

    Thank you, again :)
    I would use either "leave them to dry" or "leave them to dry off."

    When we say, for example, "you can dry up those dishes," we're not using "up" in the same way that we use "off" or "out" with dry. It's similar to saying "I'm going to clean up now"; it's just a phrasal verb, and there's no real sense of "up-ness" about it.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    If they both work, that's perfect. Of course, we can say "Wash the salad and leave it to dry off". I came across this one on Macmillan. As for "clean/up" I think there is a slight difference. You are the native speaker after all, Chris. I don't mean disrespect. According to a few of the online dicrionaries there is a very slight difference, but we bend the ruels all the time, don't we? When it comes to clothing, everything is clear. Depends on how wet/damp they are :).

    Thank you for helping me out, Chris
    Merry Christmas, pal :)
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    To dry off (transitive) = (i) to remove moisture usually from the surface of something - "Wash the car and dry it off." (ii) Reflexive "He showered and dried himself off." (The "off" is not necessary, but it implies "to completion by removal [of something]") .
    To dry out (intransitive and transitive) = to allow something to dry (i) naturally: "Put the clothes on the washing-line and they will dry out." (ii) by some other agency "I will dry out the clothes with a hair-drier." (The "out" is not necessary, but it implies "to completion.")

    Non-phrasal: "He dried the water off surface." off = from

    The prepositions that follow "dry" are rarely necessary but usually imply the degree and/or completion of the event.
     
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