Context #1 – Students in class at university
Vickey: I’m so confused after Professor Johnson’s lecture today. Did you understand any of it?
Mac: Not at all! He just makes a bunch of off-the-cuff remarks and thinks it is a lecture. I doubt he even knows what he is talking about.
Vickey: I agree. He doesn’t seem prepared at all and then he changes his mind in the middle of class.
Mac: Yes, he shouldn’t just speak off-the-cuff every day. He needs to prepare for his lectures.
Context #2 – Two friends talking about a person they saw on TV
Sierra: Did you see Bob on TV last night?
Peter: Yes, I saw him being interviewed on the 10:00 News. He was amazing!
Sierra: Did you know that he was speaking off-the-cuff? He didn’t prepare his answers at all.
Peter: Wow! Really? I wish I could give off-the-cuff answers like that. He really sounded good.
Sierra: Well, he is really talented when it comes to public speaking. He is a quick learner.
Meaning: “Off-the-cuff” means unprepared or spontaneous and can be used as both an adjective and adverb. In Context 1, the students are talking about a professor who makes off-the-cuff remarks (used as an adjective), which make his lectures confusing. They both agree that the professor shouldn’t speak off-the-cuff (used as an adverb). In context 2, the friends think that Bob’s off-the-cuff answers in the interview on TV were very good.
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Russian ESL students