put off: meaning and explanation
to put something off = to postpone or delay something.
When you delay doing something because you’re too busy or because you don’t want to do it, you are putting it off.
If you want to specify that you are delaying something until a specific day/time, you can use the ‘to put sth off until/to + time’. e.g. I’m too tired to do my homework, so I’m going to put it off until tomorrow.
A more formal synonym for ‘to put something off’ is to procrastinate. e.g. You need to stop procrastinating and get on with your essay!
Have a go at this dictation exercise to hear this phrasal verb being used in context – how much can you understand?
Accent: English (RP)
…I’d been avoiding talking to her…
The past perfect continuous (I had been avoiding talking to her) is used here to describe an ongoing action in the past before another action in the past (I couldn’t put it off any longer).
e.g. I had been talking to him for 10 minutes when I suddenly realised who he was.
Write your answers to these questions in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:
- Can you think of a time when you had problems or got in trouble because you had put something off for too long?
- The photo on this post is of laundry hanging out to dry in Venice. I chose it because I always put off doing the laundry until I have almost nothing left to wear. Is there something that you always put off doing?
- Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today”. Do you have a similar saying in your language? Do you follow this advice?