Preposition: He doesn't need much to play <off of>

valerio29

New Member
italian, italy
Hi all,
could someone explain me the meaning of the subject sentence?

Context: Movie review.

Sentence:
This actor is amazing, he can act to anything. He doesn’t need much to play off of. You just say action and he’s there.

As usual and once again, thank you in advance for your precious help!
 
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    When an actor is responding to another actor he is "playing off" the other actor. In some situations these days the actor is standing alone on an empty stage, acting by himself. Later, the monster, creature or "virtual actor" is added in through special effects. In such a case the actor is "playing off" nothing but his own imagined version of the other actor.
     

    valerio29

    New Member
    italian, italy
    perfect! now I know how to translate this. thank you so much.
    greetings from rome to beautiful california!
     

    liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    I agree with JamesM's interpretation but I find the construction "off of" strange; I don't think the "of" is necessary and would even go so far as to say it's not correct English. I would have left it out - "he doesn't need much to play off".
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I agree with JamesM's interpretation but I find the construction "off of" strange; I don't think the "of" is necessary and would even go so far as to say it's not correct English. I would have left it out - "he doesn't need much to play off".

    I'm honestly not sure about this. "Play off of" is the whole phrasal verb, isn't it, like "make fun of"?

    I wouldn't say, "His size is not an appropriate subject to make fun". It would be "His size is not an appropriate subject to make fun of." In the same way, I wouldn't say, "He has no one to play off." That sounds like the finals match in a competition. I would say, "He has no one to play off of."

    I don't know, though. I'd love to hear what others have to say about this.
     

    liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    "To make fun of" is correct of course, but I believe "to play off" is also a whole phrasal verb.

    "He likes to make fun of other people"
    "He likes to play off other people"

    I can see why one might want to add an of but "Play off of" sounds almost like a stutter to me.

    I don't know if this is a genuine error or just a stylistic difference. Perhaps it's an AE/BE difference but I suspect that we'll find some Americans who object to it too.
     
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