After close to 15 years in corporate communications, journalism, and government relations, I decided to take a break and teach English as a Second Language (ESL). I taught elementary school both in the classroom and online and I still tutor adults. There is great joy in exploring the grammar, idioms, spelling, and bizarre rules of my native language – American English as spoken in the U.S. South.
On the “American English” page, I’ll post about the nuances and peculiarities of reading, writing, speaking, and listening in American English.
Let’s kick off with: Prepositions in the English Language
Last night, I was reading through a grammar lesson on prepositions. Prepositions are notoriously difficult to master for English language learners. As many of you know, from the pair of prepositions “Off/Of” you should never use the word “of” after the word “off.”
Right: The glass fell off the table.
Wrong: The glass fell off of the table.
But how many of you American Southerners can’t help but use “of” after “off?” ME! Down here, we pronounce “off of” as “offa.” I’d much rather say, “You’d better get down offa that sofa before I tear that tail up” than “Stop jumping on the sofa and get down before you get in trouble.”
Or, instead of saying, “You need to get off the table” it just feels so much better to say, “If you fall down offa that table, ain’t nobody gone help you up.” (Hmmmm…some of you might be wondering if Southerners are always standing on furniture.)
And while I am familiar with correct grammar usage, I gotta admit, I do enjoy my Southern dialect and I ain’t comin’ off of it for nobody.” Note here that I did not pronounce “off of” as “offa.” That’s because it would be awkward sounding to pronounce the vowel “a” in “offa” before the vowel “i” in it. In this case, clearly enunciating the “f” before “i” flows much more beautifully.
NOTE: “kick off with” is an idiom meaning “let’s begin with”; typically used informally