Drop Off or Drop-Off – What’s the Difference?

If you deliver a pizza to a predetermined location, is this location the drop off or the drop-off?

A hyphen may seem like a trivial distinction, especially when someone is waiting for a delicious pizza. Nonetheless, drop off and drop-off are different parts of speech, and they can never be substituted for each other.

People should never have to wait longer than necessary for pizza, so continue reading to learn more about the difference between these two terms.

What is the Difference Between Drop Off and Drop-Off?

In this article, I will compare drop-off vs. drop off and use each version of the word in at least one example sentence. This will give you a clear idea of how they should look in the context of a sentence.

Plus, I will show you an easy way to choose drop off or drop-off by using a mnemonic device.

When to Use Drop Off

drop off versus drop-offWhat does drop off mean? Drop off is a verb phrase, and it usually means to deliver something.

Here are some examples,

  • I will drop off the package to the specified address; have the money ready.
  • After my wife drops off the kids at school, she usually stops at Starbucks for a cappuccino.

Other times, drop off can mean to descend in height, like a cliff or the ocean floor. Check out the example sentences below.

  • The cliffside drops off 800 feet to the right of the path.
  • The ocean floor drops off to almost seven miles deep in the Marianas Trench.

This same use can be used figuratively, as in this example of a sport player’s athletic ability.

  • The drop off from Wall was more dramatic. Washington received little from its rotation of big men: Starting center Marcin Gortat did not score a point until 4:41 remained in the third quarter. –The Washington Post

When to Use Drop-Off

definition of drop off definition drop-off definitionWhat does drop-off mean? Drop-off is a noun. A drop-off is either the act of delivering something, the place where something is delivered, or a steep decline in height.

The sentences below reflect drop-off’s usage in the context of deliveries.

  • We couldn’t make the drop-off; the site was swarming with enemy soldiers.
  • When you get an Uber, you need to select a drop-off before you see a price estimate.
  • A new pick-up and drop-off point opposite the main terminal building has been opened with the old area at Caledonian Way West closing. –BBC

These sentences show how drop-off is used when it refers to a steep slope.

  • Every year, two or three hikers venture too close to the drop-off and wind up being blown over the edge by a gust of wind
  • This is a steep drop-off; a fall here would mean serious injury or death.

The hyphenated drop-off can also function as an adjective.

For example,

  • Take this to the drop-off location, and leave it there.

Trick to Remember the Difference

define drop off define drop-offThe question of which of these words to use ends with parts of speech as an answer.

  • Drop-off and drop off are different parts of speech, and they cannot be substituted for each other.

Drop-off is either a noun or an adjective, and drop off is only a verb. Since the word drop in the phrase drop off is itself a verb, you can use the meaning of drop as a reminder that drop off is a verb phrase.


Is it drop-off or drop off? These two words have all the same letters, but they are punctuated differently.

  • Drop off is a verb phrase that means to deliver or to descend rapidly from a height.
  • Drop-off is a noun or adjective that refers to a delivery, the location of a delivery, or a steep decline in height.

They are different parts of speech, and can never be interchanged.