The question about "he looked out the window" vs. "he looked out of the window" has already been asked and answered satisfactorily: apparently it's a matter of taste and de gustibus non est disputandum.

Now English is admirably flexible but it cannot be infinitely flexible, hence my question: are there any specific cases where I should better opt for the "out of" or rather for the bare "out" lest I sound like the well-meaning illiterate I really am?

OK, after two days of silence I gather that there's no easy rule of thumb, thus one can rely only on his own Sprachgefühl. Anyway thanks for trying.

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    Could you supply some examples that you think might not be okay? "I got out (of) bed to answer this question" is certainly incorrect without the 'of'. – Spehro Pefhany Feb 4 '17 at 9:12
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    "Out Africa" wouldn't win any Oscars. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 4 '17 at 12:21
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    "The umpire called the batter out of" would be wrong, I suppose. – Hot Licks Feb 4 '17 at 13:33
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    @EdwinAshworth - Actually, I imagine "Out Africa" would make a pretty good art house film. – Hot Licks Feb 4 '17 at 13:33
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    I doubt you all are going to run out of examples any time soon. – Airymouse Feb 4 '17 at 14:10

This is a hypothesis. I haven't found any authoritative source, but neither have I found any counter-examples.

I think there are 3 descriptive rules at play:

  1. If the sentence uses "out" in reference to the enclosure that is being exited, "of" is always used:

    • Move out of my apartment. (Not "Move out my apartment.")
    • Get out of the armed forces. (Not "Get out the armed forces.")
    • Walk out of a relationship. (Not "Walk out a relationship.")
    • Get out of Dodge. (Not "Get out Dodge.")
    • Get out of the car. (Not, "Get out the car.")
    • Air leaked out of the balloon. (I have heard expressions similar to "Air leaked out the balloon" or "Water leaked out the tub." But they have an unsophisticated feel.)
  2. If the sentence uses "out" in reference to the portal used to exit the enclosure, then "of" is often omitted:

    • Walk out the door.
    • Look out the window.
    • Air leaked out the hole.
    • Water gushed out the drain
  3. Even when referring to a portal, "of" can mean "through." So you can optionally include "of" if you want to emphasize the portal in some way:

    • Walk out of the door.
    • Look out of the window.
    • Air leaked out of the hole.
    • Water gushed out of the drain.
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  • There really should be an authoritative source for this, but I can't find one. Note that out of is more common in the U.S. than the U.K. – Peter Shor Feb 9 '17 at 19:30
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    So if many people in the U.K. always use out of and never out, you're not going to find any expressions where out of sounds really wrong. – Peter Shor Feb 9 '17 at 19:31

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