give off something


New Member
Hello everybody.

I've got a question.

The phrasal verb give off something (give off something

to produce something such as a smell, heat, light, etcThe flowers gave off a fragrant perfume.The fire doesn't seem to be giving off much heat.)
It says in a dictionary that the verb is "inseparable"

The dictionary goes on to offer a pattern - give+off+noun

Does it mean that the pattern give+PRONOUN+off is not in use?

And the phrase "what's the smell? - something gave it off" looks strange?
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    An interesting point. Most particle verbs allow the particle to go before or after a full noun object. It is unusual for it to be inseparable, that is to only allow one order:

    (1) :tick:The fire gives off a lot of heat.
    (2) :cross:The fire gives a lot of heat off.

    But with a pronoun, (2) is the only order possible for any particle verb :)tick:I looked up the address. :cross:I looked up it.) This is true even for inseparable 'give off':

    The air freshener has a jasmine smell and gives it off all through the day. :)cross:gives off it)


    Senior Member

    What does OFF mean in give off heat, light, or smell?

    I looked it up in the WR dictionary, but could not find a proper explanation.


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Welcome to the forum, Albina. :)

    "Give off" is a phrasal verb. Stephen, you can't separate the parts. Give off = radiate. Or, as the WR dictionary says (did you look it up?): "to emit or discharge".

    You can find a definition for a word or phrase (as well as links to any previous discussions) by entering it in the search box at the top of the page.

    There are, of course, many other dictionaries on the internet as well.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    Yes, I did. I looked up give off and got its meaning. But I wanted to know what off means. The prepositions or the adverbs following a verb often indicate or imply something, like at in look at, out in hand out, off in keep off.

    But I have no idea of what off indicates in something gives off light.

    Maybe I just remember it as a fixed expression, too old to explain.
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