fall off a tree / fall out of a tree

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AndrasBP

Senior Member
Hungarian
Hello,

If I want to describe a situation where someone was climbing a tree, slipped and fell to ground, are both of the following sentences possible?

1) He fell off the tree.
2) He fell out of the tree.

If there's a difference between the two, does it depend on the situation (or the kind of tree:))?
 
  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think in most circumstances, you would fall out of a tree, but there may be the occasional situation where 'off' would be the better choice.

    I can't think of one right now, though.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "Out" is the opposite of "in", so if you are in the tree (surrounded by branches) and fall, you fall out of the tree (or "from the tree").

    If you are just on the trunk (not surrounded by branches), you fall from the tree. "Off" is the opposite of "on", so you might expect "fall off the tree", but "fall off the tree" sounds very odd.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    You would fall off a tree if the tree had fallen down and you were on the trunk.


    because you would be on the tree.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I know where you got this question from, Andras: me.:D

    In your previous thread you were talking about breaking vertebrae when you 'fall off a tree': when I replied I corrected that to 'fall out of a tree'.
     
    You would fall off a tree if the tree had fallen down and you were on the trunk.


    because you would be on the tree.
    Hi Paul, I agree that what falls 'off' was previously 'on'. However 'on' does not always mean 'atop' or 'above and in contact with.' Hence,

    The bark fell off the true. The leaves fell off the tree, etc. A fierce wind blew the locusts off the tree where thousands had settled, hours before.

    Here 'on' for the preceding state means 'attached to' 'in clinging contact with' --The leaves were on the tree. Thousands of locusts were on the tree.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    That's worth mentioning, but does not fit the context of a person (who is not naturally attached to a tree) falling "off" a tree that they have climbed.

    Off, of, and from are all closely related and tend to give a natural origin. Despite generations of young boys climbing trees, we are not an arboreal species.

    The difference with "off" is that it also has a converse of "on".
     
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