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Is It Correct to Say “Days Off”?

While working and making money is a big chunk of our adult lives, it’s also important to know when to rest and slow down. It’s always a smart idea to have some additional free time to relax, catch up on a book or have some quality family time. However, when referring to this time, is it correct to say, “days off”?

It is correct to say “days off” when describing multiple non-working days in most cases. The expression “days off” is a noun with an adverb following it that typically modifies a preceding verb like “take.” Similarly, if we want to describe a single non-working day, we would say “day off.”

Is there anything better than suddenly not working on a day you’re supposed to or taking a pause from school? This article will thoroughly discuss the proper use of the term “day(s) off.”

What Does Saying “Days Off” Mean?

A “Day off” may refer to any non-work-related task or a situation. It’s a day someone decided of their own volition not to work on (source). A day is obviously the time it is light between one night and the next, while “off” is a preposition indicating the suspension of an activity.

As a plural countable noun, saying “days off” means that a person has usually chosen to take two or more days off work or school (source).

However, there is a difference between a day off, vacation, or holiday. For instance, we consider vacations to be a longer time off work, and they usually last more than a week. 

Spring breaks, for example, signify time off school, but you wouldn’t say I took four days off school; Instead, you’d state that you’re on spring break.

As for the national holidays, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, where we would expect that an entire company wouldn’t be working, we’d say it’s a collective holiday rather than one person having a day off. 

To conclude, a day off is a day that you would normally work on but have voluntarily decided — though with your employer’s agreement, of course — to take off as a break from work or school for personal reasons.

It’s important to note that a day off can be paid or unpaid in a company, depending on the company’s policy and the reason for taking that day off.

Image by S’well via Unsplash

Is It Grammatically Correct to Say “Days Off”?

Yes, it is correct to say “days off” when you want to take a few days off work or school. It is also correct to say “day off” if you’re asking for a single day off work. Sometimes, depending on your company’s policy, you can also take half of a day off, in which case, the correct term would be “an afternoon off.” 

The saying itself is “day(s) off” because you are taking a day off work or school. Consider the examples below: 

  • I am taking the afternoon off to go visit my grandparents.
  • I have a day off tomorrow. 
  • My boss is giving me a day off after putting in 60 hours last week.  
  • She has a morning off because she needs to take care of something.

In What Context Can You Use “Days Off”?

There are multiple ways you can use the noun “days off.” For example, when you want to book or schedule a day off in advance.

You can also use the common idioms “take a day off” or “take the day off,” as well as the plural variant “take a few days off.” 

Here are a few more common examples:

  • I would like to book a day off on November 13th.
  • Can I book two days off in October?
  • I can book an afternoon off to come and pick you up at the airport if you want.

When you want to have one or more days off or wish to suggest someone take it: 

  • Have a day off! Relax and enjoy some time off work.
  • I have a day off school tomorrow.
  • They advised me to have a day off.

When you’re informing someone you want to take a day off: 

  • Hi John, I’d like to take three days off due to medical reasons.
  • Angela took a day off from school because she’s not feeling well.
  • Would you like to take a day off? You don’t look so well.

When Can You Use “Days Off?”

Anytime you would like to take a day off from work or school, whether for medical or other personal reasons, you can use the “day(s) off” phrase.

It can be any random day of the week, month, or year, as long as it’s not a national holiday or if it’s longer than a few days; in which case, we would consider this a vacation and not just a couple of days off work or school. 

For example, if Christmas day falls on a working day, and your company has a policy where nobody works that day, it would be incorrect to say that you have a day off. Instead, a day off is something you can plan upfront, or it can be unplanned in the case of emergencies or sick leaves. 

Using “Days Off” in a Full Sentence

Here are some common examples of the “day(s) off” phrase in full sentences. 

  • Hi, I would like to take two days off.
  • Marry, do you want to take a day off?
  • We can both book a day off and go to the city for some shopping.
  • Do you know what the company’s policy for taking days off is?
  • I have a day off from parenting because my child is at her grandparents’.

Which Is Correct: “Days Off” or “Day Offs”?

Since “day” is a noun and “off” is an adverb, saying “day offs” would be incorrect since an adverb doesn’t have a plural form, but a noun does. The correct way is to say “day(s) off,” depending on whether you want to take one or more days off from school or work. 

Here is an example of a firm giving a couple of days off; in this case, we use the phrase “a week off”: Christmas and New Year are both on weekends, so to meet the required vacation days, the company just gave us the whole week off!

Is It “Day Off” or “Off Day”?

There is a difference in the meaning of a “day off” and an “off day” (source). While taking a day off describes a non-working day, an off day or off-day is an informal expression for a day when you do not do things as well as usual (source). 

If you say, “I’m having an off day,” it normally means that your day wasn’t particularly positive and that you had many problems or obstacles. Having a day off is voluntary, while having an off day is not voluntary but rather a sum of bad circumstances that affect your day.

It’s always good to ensure you understand the phrase correctly before using it since subtle changes can sometimes mean two completely different things.

Here are some examples of using “off day” in a sentence:

  • July 4th was an off day for me.
  • Monday is an off day; I never feel like I’m ready to work.
  • They went to the beach this afternoon because today was an off day at work.
  • I like reading on my off days.

The last example is from Merriam-Webster, indicating that we can also use “off days” to refer to days off of duty. The only way to tell the difference is by the context of the sentence.

When Not to Use “Days Off”?

In situations where it’s a well-known national holiday and not a specific day that a person chooses to take a day off, you usually don’t use the “day off” phrase. This is because, usually, everyone in the company isn’t working on a holiday. 

You can also think of it this way: if you normally don’t work on weekends, you wouldn’t say that you have two days off for the weekend. 

As for the holidays, if you are normally off on a national holiday and your boss asks you to work, you will typically get your regular pay plus a “comp” day, which you can take off with pre-approval from your superior.

So we can say, “Christmas this year falls on the weekend, so we are given the following Monday off.”

What Do You Call “Days Off”?

The most common expression for days off is usually just “days off” because you take a few days off from work or school. The main difference between taking a couple of days off work and taking a vacation is that the latter involves a longer time span. 

However, depending on the reason for taking some days off, we can refer to them differently; here are some examples:

Vacation days: usually for short vacations up to a week. 

  • I will use my vacation days next week.

Holidays: When you take a day off on a holiday that is not considered a holiday in the company you’re working for.

  • I celebrate orthodox Christmas, which falls on January 7th, so I’ll be taking a day off. 

Sick days/sick leave: When you’re taking a couple of days off work or school due to medical reasons.

How Do You Take a Day Off?

How you will ask for a day off will depend on your specific situation. For example, if you want to take a day off school, you can simply ask your parents or caretaker. In some cases, you can also ask teachers to take a day off, depending on the school system and the reason.

If you want to take a day off work, you will usually have to write an email or give a call to your boss or supervisor to ask them for a day off. In that case, it’s important to be specific and respectful and to disclose as many details as you can. 

Steps for Asking to Take a Day Off

It’s important to follow some general guidelines when taking a day off, and it’s essential to check your company’s policy. Make sure it’s okay with your colleagues, and inform your manager. Here are some helpful tips:

Check Your Company’s Policy

Usually, you have a specific number of paid leave days that you would use to take a day off. If you no longer have paid leave days, you can maybe take unpaid days off. There are also multiple types of days off, depending on the company, and here are some of them: 

  • Maternity/paternity leave
  • Sick leave
  • Personal time off
  • Official duties 
  • Etc.

Check the Calendar

It might be wise to check if there are any upcoming work events. If your boss needs your presence for something to go through, you might consider that before planning a day off. This situation does not apply to sick leaves and emergencies. 

Inform Your Manager but Also Send a Formal Request

Even if your company only requires you to send an email to inform them you’re taking a day off, it’s best to talk with your manager and explain the reason for the day off. Of course, it’s always best to talk to your manager and send a formal request.

In your request, be sure to give specific details regarding the length of time and the reason for which you’re taking a day off. If it’s a vacation, you usually don’t need to disclose it, but your employer might require you to show some kind of doctor’s note if it’s for sick leave.

Image by cottonbro via Pexels

Phrases and Idioms

We mentioned earlier that “days off” is a phrase, which is a small group of words functioning as a unit. We often use this phrase in idioms such as “take a few days off.” An idiom is an expression that is difficult to understand through a literal interpretation of the words.

For instance, we do not literally “take” a day as if to grab something physically. Instead, we mean that we are not going to work that day — we are assuming the right to do so. This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.

For more on common work-related phrases, make sure you read “What Does ‘By Tomorrow’ Mean?” and “In Time vs. On Time: Choosing the Right Preposition for Time.”

Final Thoughts

Asking for a day or multiple days off is a recurring and common situation. Now that you know all the details about how and when to use the phrase “days off,” you’re ready to ask for some time off to recoup. Since “off” is an adverb, we would not say “offs,” so the plural form of “day off” is “days off.”