Chinese speakers often say “outside” when they should really say “out.” (Both can sometimes be translated as “外面” in Chinese.)
The difference is simple. Out means (depending on context) either “not at home” or “not at one’s workplace.” Outside normally means “outdoors” — in other words, in the open air, not in any kind of house or building.
If you go to a restaurant, you’re “eating out” but probably not eating outside (although some restaurants do have tables outside). “Eating outside” could refer to a picnic, a barbecue, a sidewalk café, or something like that.
- I don’t feel like cooking today. Let’s eat out.
- The weather’s beautiful. Let’s eat outside.
When you “go out,” you leave your home. You might go to a store, go to the park, visit a friend, etc. When you “go outside,” you’re probably still at home but not actually inside the house.
- He’s gone out to buy a few things.
- He’s gone outside to mow the lawn.
Depending on context, “go out” could also mean leaving your workplace rather than your home.
- I’m sorry, but Mr. Chen’s not in the office today. He’s gone out to visit a customer.
- Our company has a strict no-smoking policy. If you want to smoke, please go outside.
A “night out” usually means going somewhere with your friends — for example, to a bar, to the movies, etc. — and coming home pretty late. If, on the other hand, you spend the night “outside,” you’re probably either camping or homeless!
- They went to a bar on Saturday, and they were out all night.
- They went camping on Saturday, so they were outside all night.
Want to learn more English? Next time you go out, stop by Eton and see which class is best for you!
Eton Royal English School