The word rarely turns up outside that context.

and

The word rarely turns up outside of that context.

Which one is correct and why?

  • 1
    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
  • @Noldorin: While the question you linked concerns the same sentence, it is still about a completely different aspect (namely positioning of the adverb), so I wouldn't merge the questions. – balu Oct 20 at 12:21
  • Here is the equivalent question about "inside" vs. "inside of": english.stackexchange.com/questions/119971/… – balu Oct 20 at 12:21
up vote 20 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?

  • Unfortunately, the link you provided is broken. My understanding has always been that there's the noun "[the] outside", used with "of" as in "the outside of the box", and two related but distinct adverbs: 1) "outside" (without "of"), used to describe location as in "put it outside the box", "outside the city" etc. and 2) the adverb "outside of", used as a synonym for "apart from". (See also this related question about "inside" vs. "inside of" and especially the Groucho Marx quote… – balu Oct 20 at 12:41
  • …that's mentioned there in the comments.) So I'm somewhat surprised now to read that "outside" and "outside of" are supposedly completely synonymous as adverbs and, moreover, that "outside of" is generally acceptable when describing locations. (There seem to be a few expressions where it is, especially when it is not followed by an article, e.g. "The event takes place outside of town" vs. "The event takes place outside a town called…") Could anyone clarify? – balu Oct 20 at 12:47

'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.

Let's consider two sentences: 1. Outside/Outside of Norway, the world's largest Norse community is in Minnesota. 2. The cemetery is located outside/outside of the town. In these two sentences, the term outside/outside of is used in two different ways. In the first sentence it means "apart from" or "anywhere other than in." Because the synonymous phrase ends with a preposition, the best term here is "outside of." In the second sentence it means "beside" or "alongside." The best term here, I think, is "outside." To summarize, if you could substitute the words "apart from" or other than in," use "outside of." If you could substitute the word "beside" or "alongside," use "outside." I hope this is helpful.

  • 2
    This does not answer the question. The question is about whether to include "of" in the sentence. – MetaEd Jun 30 '16 at 18:45

protected by user140086 Jun 30 '16 at 20:05

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