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The word rarely turns up outside that context.


The word rarely turns up outside of that context.

Which one is correct and why?

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I edited your text to make context singular, so that it would agree with its singular antecedent, that. If you want it plural, you should use those instead of that. – Robusto Jan 23 '11 at 23:58
Edited your title for clarity. Hope you don't mind :) – Jimi Oke Jan 24 '11 at 1:52
Err, you should really merge your questions: this and english.stackexchange.com/questions/9702/…. I ended up answering this question in the other one already. – Noldorin Jan 24 '11 at 2:05
up vote 9 down vote accepted

The preposition/adverb, outside, and the compound preposition, outside of, both have the same meaning: beyond the boundaries/limits of _

The New Oxford American Dictionary provides an excellent exposition on the usage of these two:

Outside of tends to be more commonly used in the US than in Britain, where outside usually suffices, but, like its cousin off of, it is colloquial and not recommended for formal writing. … The adverb outside is not problematic when referring to physical space, position , etc. (I‘m going outside), but the compound preposition outside of is often used as a colloquial (and often inferior) way of saying except for, other than, apart from (outside of what I just mentioned, I can’t think of any reason not to). Besides possibly sounding more informal than desired, outside of may cause misunderstanding by suggesting physical space or location when that is not the point to be emphasized, or when no such sense is intended — consider the ambiguity in this sentence: outside of China, he has few interests. Does this mean that his primary interest is China? Or does it mean that whenever he is not in China, he has few interests?

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'Outside of' grates on my ear too! The 'of' is superfluous - and I was brought up to believe that brevity is the key to good writing: so unnecessary words should be omitted.

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