fall from vs fall off [a ladder]

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Dutch person needs help

New Member
I was looking for any reason why some things are fall from, and others fall off. I need to explain this to a pupil, but I don't know the difference myself.

The sentence we had trouble with was this one:
He fell from a ladder OR He fell off a ladder.

I have a feeling (which can be incorrect) that it should be from. I can't explain why though, so I couldn't help my pupil.

Are there any rules at all or is it just personal preference? Are these two word interchangable?

Thank you.
Last edited:
  • alaethea

    Senior Member
    India-Tamil & English
    "fell off" sounds more informal.
    As for me, I wouldn't use "fell from"
    And to second my assertion:
    You fall off a cliff because of your stupidity, while you fall from a diaz due to slight carelessness.


    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Both are correct here, so you could certainly use either one. However, "fell off" would be more common in this situation if you used it by itself. If you were referring to a particular place that the person is falling from (such as the top, or highest point) you could write it as "He fell from the top of the ladder."


    Senior Member
    Welcome to the forums, DPNH!

    I think ace02nc is on the right track. We tend to use fall from when the point of origin is specified, rather than general.

    The politician fell from his position of absolute authority.
    "Off" wouldn't work here at all.

    The cat fell off the roof. The cat fell from the tree branch.


    The roofer fell from the roof. The roofer fell off the roof. Ignoring the aggravating repetition of roof/roofer, both are idiomatic. Context and style will dictate which sounds best.
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