If somebody likes sleeping in the open, which of the following sentences is correct? And if both are correct, what is the difference (if any) between them?

He likes sleeping outdoors.

He likes sleeping in the outdoors.

And do they mean the same as in the open?

  • Outdoors is an adverb. If something happens outdoors, it does not happen inside a building. He spent a lot of his time outdoors. School classes were held outdoors. When someone goes out of a building, you don't usually say that they go 'outdoors'. You say that they go outside.thefreedictionary.com/outdoor :
    – user66974
    May 25, 2015 at 11:11
  • 1
    @Josh61 I know, but what sentence is correct and is there difference between to sleep outdoors and to sleep in the outdoors? And do they have the same meaning as in the open?
    – olegst
    May 25, 2015 at 11:15
  • 1
    Both are correct. "Sleeping outdoors" would be more idiomatic in the US, though sometimes "in the outdoors" is used as a sort of emphasis. And the expression does mean "in the open", though there are subtle differences in tone and secondary implications (that I can't quite get my hands on at present).
    – Hot Licks
    May 25, 2015 at 11:41
  • The MacMillan Dict. actually cites the expression in the outdoors : books.google.it/…
    – user66974
    May 25, 2015 at 11:56
  • In the outdoors sounds very odd. How can one be in an exterior?
    – Dog Lover
    May 25, 2015 at 12:17

1 Answer 1


If you say that someone "sleeps outdoors," the most common inference would be that they are homeless - or perhaps they can't abide the air-conditioning. It usually brings to mind a picture of someone in a setting where there are indoor places to sleep. (A city, or a residential neighborhood.)

If you say "sleeps in the outdoors, one assumes that there is a lack of permanent, man-made shelter nearby. "The outdoors" is another way of saying "the wilderness" or "open country". (US)

  • 1
    Actually, it would not be unusual for someone to "sleep outdoors" by sleeping on a screened porch, say, in the summer.
    – Hot Licks
    May 25, 2015 at 12:51

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