In my experience, the word "without" is generally used as a preposition to describe some action for example:

I went to Paris without my bag.

I believe though, that I have heard it used with reference to some physical location or perhaps as an exclusion from some category:

  • You will find him without the city walls.
  • The enemy within and the ally without.

I cannot quite remember the connotation that it was used with, but upon saying the above phrases to myself I get bit of an archaic sense from the usage. Sounds to me like a line that could be used in a film set in a medieval time period.

The reason I ask is I'm reviewing an official document describing an employees work and the following statement appears:

He has participated in numerous projects both from within the same department and from without.

Is this usage relevant/correct in a modern business setting?

  • 1
    In context I understand this usage, but it still sounds very strange to me. Curiously, I also found myself pronouncing it slightly differently, introducing a slight pause before with and stressing out slightly more. Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 11:12
  • @JamesWebster - yes it's funny isn't it? I guess because when it acts as a preposition - without love we have nothing - without runs on, into the following noun. As an adverb it tends to be at the end of the phrase.
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 14:31

2 Answers 2


"There is no world without Verona walls." Shakespeare, "Romeo and Juliet."

It is archaic, or very nearly so. In my experience "without" in the sense of "outside" is only used today when coupled with "within" (as in your example), and each time one gets the feeling that something that was written a long time ago is being quoted. That said, it is NOT tacky at all. I.e. it's okay to use it in polite company.


There is a school in Bristol called St Michael's on the Mount Without. This name is from the mid-15th century, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Michael_on_the_Mount_Without. The sense is that the church was sited outside the city walls.

He has participated in numerous projects both from within the same department and from without. Although the sense of your line is clear, modern usage would probably be ...from within the same department and externally.

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