fall down/ fall off

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JJJenifer

Senior Member
Taiwan/Chinese
Hi, everyone,

I am reading an artical How business schools are helping students c ope with stress (Martiin Thompson, The Independent, 11 May, 2006).
One of the sentences inside is as below:
"...each in turn helping the others to get to the other end of the plank without falling off."

I am wondering whythe auther used "fall off" but not "fall down".

If I replace "fall off" to "fall down", will any nuance be changed?
If yes, how will it be changed?

Thank you in advance.
 
  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It would be helpful to see the beginning of the sentence, and perhaps a sentence or two immediately before it.

    I'm guessing the author is talking about walking along a metaphorical plank positioned somehow above the ground. In which case, one could fall off it.
     

    JJJenifer

    Senior Member
    Taiwan/Chinese
    Yes, sure.
    The paragraph starts like this:
    " Another exercise requires the whole team to stand on a narrow wooden plank,
    each in turn helping the others to get to the other end of the plank without falling off".

    Can't "fall down" be used to replace "fall off" here?
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thanks.

    OK, so it's not a metaphor, it's a real plank.

    Well, if you did fall down, you would fall off the plank. You would fall off the plank and onto the floor.

    The idea is to stay on the plank, without falling off.

    I hope that helps to visualise why we'd say 'off' instead of 'down' in this context.
     

    Allypally

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    You fall OFF something - a plank, a ladder, a horse, a bike, a roof and so on.

    You usually fall DOWN something with which your body has contact during the fall - the stairs, a mountain, a slope or, metaphorically, down a ratings table (I suppose because you go bump, bump, bump down to the bottom).

    OR you can fall down independently e.g. My grandmother fell down (or over) in the street, tho' 'fell' on its own would also be used.

    But OUT OF a window.
     
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