to go off: meaning and explanation

The phrasal verb ‘to go off’ is used to talk about alarms – alarm clocks, car alarms, fire alarms, and so on.

If an alarm ‘goes off’ then it starts, makes a sound or rings.

For example, I used to work with someone who slept so deeply that when his alarm went off in the mornings he would turn it off without actually waking up. This meant that he would oversleep and would often turn up late for work. Now he hides his alarm so that when it goes off he has to look for it and find it before he can turn it off. This gives him a chance to wake up properly.

Have a go at this dictation exercise to hear this phrasal verb being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: Ireland

I couldn't because alarm was my window .
I couldn't sleep night because a alarm was off outside my window night.

…a car alarm was going off…

The continuous is used here to communicate the fact that the action happened over a period of time, instead of happening once or suddenly (a car alarm went off).

Discussion questions

Write your answers to these questions in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • What time does your alarm go off in the morning?
  • When your alarm goes off, do you get up straight away or do you press the snooze button?
  • Have you ever been in a building when the fire alarm or smoke alarm went off? What happened?
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Seva
Guest
Seva

Hello.
My alarm goes off at 6 am in the morning.
When my alarm goes off I press the snooze button.
I have never heard the fire or smoke alarm.

Gulnar
Guest
Gulnar

* My alarm goes off at 6.45 a.m in the morning.
* When my alarm goes off, I press the snooze button, and only after 2nd alarm I wake up.
* I have never been in a building that the fire alarm went off. I have never heard the fire alarm.

Mariwa
Guest
Mariwa

My alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. from Monday to Friday only.
When my alarm goes off, I usually press the snooze button for half an hour:) and only at 7:00 I leave my bed.
I’ve never been in a building when the fire alarm or smoke alarm went off. Fortunately:))

Jackie
Guest
Jackie

Hi!! My almar goes off at 5 a.m. when my alaem goes off I press the snooze button. Once in my job the smoke alarm went off it was so noisy and everybody there were so nervous.

Irina
Guest
Irina

My alarm usually goes off at 7 am.
I almost always press the snooze button.
Yes. It happened once in a supermarket.

Maritza
Guest
Maritza

In the morning my alarm goes off at 6.10 am and I get up straight away most of the time.

Aline
Guest
Aline

My alarm goes off at 6:15 a.m. and when it goes off, I wake up straight away. I’ve never been in a building when the fire alarm went off. Actually, I don’t even know if this kind of thing works very well around here.

Milagros
Guest

I have no idea how it works, but I don’ t need any alarm. I use my cellphone for it but I usually wake yo before it gets off.

Victor
Guest

My alarm always go off at 6:40 am. I don’t get up immediately, I just stay lay down on my bed, check out the new until 7:00 a.m.

I’ve never been in an building when the fire alarm go off

gabrielatalaverac
Guest
gabrielatalaverac

I set my alarm at 06:15 am but when it goes off I slide to snooze, that cause a big trouble because sometimes I arrive late for work.

Emma
Guest
Emma

• My alarm go off at 5 o’clock in the morning and then I almost press the snooze botton.
• My house don’t have any fire alarm or smoke alarm, thus, I have never heard these alarm.

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