Out the door vs. Out of the house

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On CNN recently, this exchange:

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Ari Velshi: You're more like an average guy.

Tim Pawlenty: I welcome that. I'm not, you know, going to light my hair on fire and shoot sparks out my ears, or whatever.

The OED explains that this use of out, meaning "From within, away from", in contexts where the current standard language uses out of, is  "Formerly poet. Now regional and nonstandard". There are citations back to 1300:

c1300 Childhood Jesus (Laud) 1625 in C. Horstmann Altengl. Legenden (1875) 1st Ser. 54   Þare cam An Naddre out þe gras.
a1375 William of Palerne (King's Cambr.) (1867) 4219   We‥neuer-more for no man mowe be deliuered, ne pult out prison.
c1430 (1386)    Chaucer Legend Good Women Prol. 197   Whan that the sunne out the south gan weste.
1545 T. Raynald tr. E. Roesslin Byrth of Mankynde 100   It wyll not conueniently yssue oute that narowe place.

However, the OED's two most recent citations strike me as not poetic or regional or nonstandard at all, because they involve the phrase "out the door":

1982 A. Maupin Further Tales of City 59   The houseman wolfed down a deviled egg and scurried out the door.
1992 Globe & Mail (Toronto) 6 Aug. (Educ. Suppl.) 2/2   When you become useless, you're out the door.

And the one before that also strikes me as standard, being an instance of the pattern "look out the <opening>":

1972 D. E. Westlake Cops & Robbers (1973) iii. 46   He looked out the windshield.

There's a danger, in cases like this, that when I say "standard" I mean "OK to use in formal speech or writing, according to my personal taste". So I checked a couple of well-edited sources, and found these recent examples in the NYT:

He urged his audience to evacuate and he led a procession out the door, signing autographs and posing for pictures along the way.
On his way out the door, he paused to grab a beer from the beverage cart.
Mr. Olczak's had offered to take Ray to the court house to see about his fine and had been trying to hurry him out the door.
He looked out the window and saw a white van.
I spent most of third and fourth grade staring out the window, longing to get to the construction site.
As the flight to Birmingham began its descent, the passenger in 8B, a barrel of a man wearing a camouflage baseball cap, peered out the window at the disfigured sprawl of Tuscaloosa below.

Specifically, in the past 90 days there have been 51 results for "out the door", and a quick check suggest that in every case, out is a transitive preposition with door as its object. The same time period shows just two instances of "out of the door". At least one of these has a slightly different meaning, involving a partial rather than complete transition across the boundary:

Mr. Owusu testified that as he turned the taxi onto Flatbush Avenue, the woman asked if he had a plastic bag she could vomit in. He did not, so he pulled over so she could stick her head out of the door to vomit, he said.

In comparison, there are 22 instances over the past 90 days of "out of the house", all of which are ordinary prepositional uses:

Ms. Shriver had moved out of the house and into a Beverly Hills hotel earlier this year.
Nearby residents noticed that few people ever ventured out of the house
When Henry's intolerance drives Gabriel out of the house, he isn't heard from for years.
His sister, who lives with him, said she would not be able to roll him out of the house if there were a fire.

There are three instances of "out the house", in all of which out is a "particle" (i.e. an intransitive preposition) associated with the "phrasal verbs" clear out and rent out:

Her mission: clear out the house, call in an antiques dealer to look at some of the books, and arrange for charitable donations.
Last year, while Mr. Denkin prepared for his move back East, he rented out the house, during which time somebody was impressed enough with it to make a $700,000 offer.
Keep in mind that you can rent in a new area — and perhaps rent out the house you now own — before you commit, Mr. Sperling said.

So this is not just my personal quirk. But what *is* "this"?

It's not just lexical. You can walk — or run, crawl, scurry, roll, etc. — out the gate, out the back, out the exit, etc. You can look — or stare, peer, gaze, squint, etc. — out the window, out the porthole, out the viewport, out the sunroof, etc.

But you can't (standardly) walk out the house, or out the plaza, or out the village, or whatever — all of those need "of". Nor can you (standardly) peer out the box, or stare out the car, or shoot out the bushes — though you can perfectly well shoot at someone out of the bushes, etc.

Apparently out as a transitive preposition has something to do with transiting from within an enclosed space through a limited aperture of some kind.

This would make "shoot sparks out my ears" work fine, if you thought of yourself as a potentially spark-shooting being positioned within your skull. But in fact, I think Mr. Pawlenty's phrase is more likely an instance of the non-standard modern inheritor of the old-fashioned general preposition out.

Update — As usual, MWDEU is helpful: "When used as a preposition, it seems most often to go with door or window … With nouns that designate places or things that can be thought of as containing or surrounding, out of is usual … Out has been used this way, but it sounds not quite part of the mainstream …"


  1. Steve Kass said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 11:38 am

    Conversely, out of has to do with exiting an enclosure or container.

    It seems to me that you walk or come out of X for those X values where you can’t be in X in the sense of inside X or fully within X.” You can be in the bushes, in the house, in the water, in the blue, and in the car, all of which are containers of sorts (or of you), so you walk or come out of those things. You cannot be inside the door or the window, so you come out those things (without of).

  2. dw said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 11:41 am

    FWIW (which is probably zero), my personal grammar regards "out the X" as always nonstandard. This is admittedly inconsistent, since I think it DISallows "of" after any other preposition ("off of", "outside of", "inside of" all sound wrong to me, although I hear them often in the US).

  3. Keith Ivey said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 11:45 am

    I didn't notice anything exceptional about "shoot sparks out my ears". It seems different from your "walk out the house" and "peer out the box" examples, but I'm not sure how (other than having an object). Your point about transiting through an aperture seems relevant, but I don't think it requires envisioning the actor as a homunculus inside the skull. Does "That joke made me shoot milk out my nose" seem equally strange to you? It seems unremarkable to me.

    [(myl) "Out my nose" does seem exactly like "out my ears" to me — on the edge. I note that the relatively formal writing style in the biomedical literature uses both — and that (to my intutions at least) they aren't symmetrical. Thus I think it might be problematic (in the relevant register) to substitute "out his nose" for these examples of "out of his nose":

    Shortly after 1600 h his body was found slumped on a seat in the top carriage of a train. Brown fluid was coming out of his nose.
    He placed a paper tissue on his lap, leaned over it, and tried to force mucus out of his nose.
    Five days after the procedure, the patient had liquids coming out of his nose and a weak, nasally voice.

    I don't perceive similar problems in the other direction, though there seems to be a slight difference in meaning:

    He first noticed a “pinhole” in his palate in late November 1997, after a soft drink he consumed ran out his nose.
    The patient is a 67-year-old man who gave a history of increasing difficulty in swallowing, especially liquids. He choked when he swallowed and much of his food was coughed out his nose.
    In this way the air from his lungs passed through his mouth, up behind the soft palate and out his nose. This enabled him to blow his nose as perfectly as he had ever done.

    Such intuitions are generally not very reliable. But a large fraction of the "out his nose" examples from Google Scholar are constructions like "the pony stretched out his nose"; and despite that, there are less than half as many hits for "out his nose" as for "out of his nose". So I conclude that in this relatively formal register, "out of" is more common.]

  4. Henning Makholm said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 11:47 am

    This reminds me of what was called "transitive adjectives" by GKP last month. Could this well-established use of "out" be part of the pattern that makes "overweight" work like a preposition in some fields?

  5. Henning Makholm said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 11:58 am

    @Keith Ivey: There does seem (to me) to be an implication that the movement through the aperture must be caused from within somehow. For example, "There are two access holes in the lid of the urn. Take one ball out the left one, please" sounds nonstandard.

  6. D Sky Onosson said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

    The forms that allow "out" without "of" can mostly be replaced by "through". The ones that require "of" cannot.

    walk out the door
    walk through the door
    *walk out the house
    *walk through the house (with the meaning of "exit the house")

    [(myl) Good point, except that through is non-directional. And "shoot sparks through my ears" would be a little weird.]

  7. Gamboling Lamb said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

    There are 6.1 million ghits for "get out the bed." I've heard that particular collocation quite a bit, but suddenly I can't quite pinpoint in what contexts.

  8. Ran Ari-Gur said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

    Interestingly, "in" vs. "into" seems to be less strict; "go in/into the house" is fine, but "go in/*into the front door" allows only "in".

    Maybe in these cases "the front door" isn't semantically the object of "in" or "out" at all — semantically, it's as though "in" and "out" are being used intransitively (as traditional-grammar "adverbs" or "particles"), with "the front door" being an additional adverbial, meaning "through the front door". ("Went in/out the front door" = "went in/out via the front door.") The asymmetry would then be because "out" can't standardly take a semantic object, but requires the additional preposition "of" for that.

    (But the semantics doesn't seem to be guiding the syntax here, so maybe this way of looking at it isn't useful.)

  9. rootlesscosmo said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

    Analogous to "out one's nose/ears" is "blow it out your ass," in which "out of" would sound to me like a mid-phrase shift in register.

    [(myl) In the body of the post, I was going to give the example "out the wazoo", but it turns out that almost as many folks on the internets write "out of the wazoo", even though that is Just Wrong.]

  10. mollymooly said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

    Jeremy Smith classes "look out the window" as US, "look out of the window" as UK. I don't think that's a hard or fast rule.

    [(myl) To say the least —

    … he was used to being with them as the family friend, talking, reading, looking out the window, all day long … [Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities]
    I don't really think I had looked out the window at all until I heard this extraordinary screaming. [Agatha Christie, The Clocks]
    Arthur stared, frowning, out the window. [Douglas Adams, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish]

    Again the button was absent, and that shirt followed its comrades out of the window. [Mark Twain, Autobiography]
    Corsen looked out of the window again, then moved toward Fisher. [Elmore Leonard, Trouble at Rindo's Station]
    I remember my father wearing madras shorts on weekends, and black socks, and mowing the lawn like that, and sometimes looking out of the window at what he looked like in that getup and feeling actual pain at being related to him. [David Foster Wallace, The Pale King]

    Perhaps there are statistical differences, I don't know — but all varieties of English seem to be variable on this dimension.]

  11. Horst said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

    In German:
    "aus dem Haus heraus/hinaus" = "out of the house"
    "zur Tür heraus/hinaus" = "out the door"
    Here's an idiomatic one with a body orifice: "Die Relativität wächst mir zum Hals heraus" ( "Relativity is growing out my throat", meaning "I'm fed up with relativity") by guess who.

  12. Bob Ladd said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

    I think Ran Ari-Gur's comment is worth following up. There are actually a lot of pairs like out / out of where there's a subtle difference of meaning or appropriate context – specifically, pairs X / XY where X is a preposition and Y is a different preposition. Not only in / into (as Ran says), but also on / onto. Some of this depends on the verb: put the blanket on/onto the bed sounds better to me with on, but slide the fried egg on/onto the plate sounds better with onto. Or down: down the street, down the stairs, down the hill are all fine, suggesting that the object of the preposition specifies the route, but down at the beach, down in the basement, down to the shop require an extra preposition if we're talking about a location or a destination. Except in fixed expressions like New England down cellar and British down the pub.

    [(myl) Or mid-Atlantic American (anyhow NJ and eastern PA) "down the shore", meaning "down at the (Jersey) shore".]

  13. Arnold Zwicky said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

    Discussion of P + of vs. plain P in the notes from my 2007 Linguistic Institute class, here. Out (of) is Section B.

  14. Mr Punch said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 5:39 pm

    Ran Ari-Gur sounds right. My take: You can be in the house, but not in the door/window/gate – "in the door" (as opposed to doorway) and "in the house" aren't parallel – there's no reason "out" constructions should be.

  15. Pflaumbaum said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

    out the + NP is so completely normal to my ear that I was about to query whether this restriction was an AmE thing. But checking in CGEL (p.639), it actually says the construction without 'of' is mainly AmE (or informal).

    I accept that it's less formal than out of, but is

    Yesterday I walked out the house in my underwear really non-standard (the sentence, not the behaviour)?

  16. Joe Fineman said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

    For me, "out" without "of" is confined to orifices. "Threw it out the window" and "The smoke comes out the chimney just the same" are in songs I learned in childhood, but "out the house" sounds wrong to me.

    Oddly, tho, I can't use bare "out" with *all* orifices. "Fog was coming out his mouth" and "A chipmunk came out a hole in the tree" are beyond the pale, tho what pale that is, I can't say.

  17. Chris Waters said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 7:36 pm

    Followup to D Sky Onosson's comment (and MYL's response): I think "through" is a good clue, but if you re-insert directionality by re-adding "out", then I think we're getting very close indeed. Thus, "I went out through the door" or "I looked out through the window" work, but "I went out through the house" is…odd at best. And "I shot sparks out through my ears" seems perfectly reasonable to me (or at least as reasonable as "I shot sparks out (of) my ears").

  18. Dan T. said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 7:37 pm

    There's a book In and Out the Garbage Pail by Frederick S. Perls (1969).

  19. jlr said,

    May 28, 2011 @ 10:42 pm

    They say eyes are the windows of the soul. Maybe ears are the doors.

  20. John Cowan said,

    May 29, 2011 @ 3:15 am

    I wonder if out of doors vs. outdoors is related to this at all.

  21. Nightstallion said,

    May 29, 2011 @ 9:42 am

    Can someone tell me if I'm the only one who hears Pawlenty actually say "out'f my ears"? I've listened to the clip a couple of times, and I'm pretty sure I hear a "f" between "out" and "my"…

  22. Ron Kephart said,

    May 29, 2011 @ 9:59 am

    I'm almost convinced that I hear "oup my ears" as though the /t/ is assimilating to the following [m].

    And now, I've wasted 10 minutes listening to this jerk…

  23. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 29, 2011 @ 10:27 am

    This might be a slighly odd usage as well because of interference with the phrasal verb (or whatever terminology you prefer) "shoot out." I.e. "shoot out the lights" or "shoot out the window" can mean "extinguish or destroy by striking with bullets." "Ears" would not be an expected object for that sense, but it might still cause additional confusion in processing.

  24. Glenn Bingham said,

    May 29, 2011 @ 10:38 am

    Following “through” [pun intended]

    To understand the relation of “out” to “through,” it requires understanding “through.” There are (at least) two distinctive categories of through-ness, each with two sub-categories, those possibly distinguished with aspect. First there is a bounded “through” and then there is a penetrative “through.” The first applies to going through the house. It means something like “exploring the bounds of.” The exploration can be linear or not and it can be concrete (house) or abstract (text). As far as linearity goes, I “read through” a short story in a different way than I “read through” a proposed textbook. The second type of through-ness is penetrative. It deals with either an orifice passage or a penetration of a membrane. The penetration can be punctual (lance) or non-punctual (permeate).

    ===Unspecified: John walked through the house.
    ===Linear: The escapee bolted through the warehouse. / I read through the short story.
    ===Non-linear: John wandered through the garden. / I read through the proposed textbook.

    ===Unspecified: John glanced through the window
    ===Orificial: John walked through the door.
    ===== +Punctual: Mary stuck a pin through the doll’s arm.
    ===== -Punctual: The water seeped through the basement wall.

    Fly in ointment: window
    “Window” can refer either to an orifice or a membrane.
    Ali jumped out the window (=orifice).
    The dirty water streaked the window (=membrane).
    So, “John glanced through the window” can either mean that his looking travels out an orifice or penetrates a membrane (or both?). Although one reading stands out above the other in most scenarios, the same can be done with a door. It is ambiguous orifice/membrane-wise to say, “The Abrams tank went through the door of the fortress.” Replace “went” with “slipped” and then “crashed” to ease the ambiguity.

  25. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 29, 2011 @ 11:38 am

    Hmm. FWIW, google has 126 actual results (i.e. as opposed to the hundreds of thousands the first page tells you there will be) for "shoot out of my ears" compared to 54 for "shoot out my ears."

  26. Steve Kass said,

    May 29, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

    Joel Fineman said,

    Oddly, tho, I can't use bare "out" with *all* orifices. "Fog was coming out his mouth" and "A chipmunk came out a hole in the tree" are beyond the pale, tho what pale that is, I can't say.

    “Orifice” isn’t quite specific enough. Threshold or portal is a more useful category. Something can be contained within a mouth or a hole, so those aren’t strictly thresholds, like windows and doors are. They’re also containers, and things can come out of containers.

    Back to the topic of ears, no one has mentioned the saying “in one ear and out the other.” The saying doesn’t really allow the concept of ear-as-container, only ear-as-portal.

    Another went in, came out example that coerces the as-portal concept is the description of bullet paths (through people). Only the bullet came out his right eye sounds right, not came out of his right eye (unless it happened to fall out some time after the shooting, not having exited at the time of injury).

    Things that aren’t otherwise portals can be made into them by bullets (or as someone mentioned earlier, pins), too. A cheek, for example, is not normally a portal, but a bullet can come out one.

  27. Steve Kass said,

    May 29, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

    Mark mentioned noses in response to Keith Ivey, and a portal/container distinction fits his examples.

    The things that Mark found coming out of noses were fluid and mucus, both of which might generally reside in a nose-as-container. The things that Mark found coming out noses, on the other hand, were food, drink, and air. Food and drink don’t reside in nose-containers, and while air could, the air that Mark found coming out a nose didn’t originate in the nose. (A balloon’s air could, and it would then come out of the balloon, not come out the balloon.)

    One more example: Google has many more hits for pockets and other things “hanging out the bottom of your shorts” than for things “hanging out of the bottom of your shorts.”

  28. Zythophile said,

    May 29, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

    Steve Kass: Google has many more hits for pockets and other things “hanging out the bottom of your shorts” than for things “hanging out of the bottom of your shorts.”

    Do you have a handy BrE/AmE split on that? Because to my southern English ears, while "he looked out the window" and "he looked out of the window" both sound acceptable, I'm marginally happier with "he went out of the door" over "he went out the door", and I'm definitely unhappy with "hanging out the bottom" as opposed to "hanging out of the bottom".

  29. Philip said,

    May 29, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

    Sorry for the slight topic shift, but my students here in Southern California almost universally write "get off the car" for "get out of the car," but it's never "get on the car" for "get in the car."

    And why in English (at least in my dialect) do we get "in" to smaller things like cars and get "on" airplanes, buses, boats, and trains?

  30. Cameron said,

    May 29, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

    To my ear "out of" is the default and "out" requires a special context to enable it. Does the distinction depend on whether the passage though the portal is surprising or at least unconnected to design ("out of") versus something that is expected and according to design(enabling "out")? I would always say "a dancing girl jumped out of the cake" which is consistent with "out of nowhere" and "out of thin air." But water runs out the bottom of a funnel. A voice comes out of a cave, but out a megaphone.

  31. chh said,

    May 29, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

    Chris Waters' suggestion also works with the way 'out' works in some but not all cases of hanging out and sticking out.

    "The banner is hanging out (through) the window"
    "She kept sticking her arm out (*through) the car."

    At least those are my judgements. Is the second sentence odd without 'of' for people?

    I don't know what to say about either of these (both slightly nsfw due to language)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dhspliw9pSY#t=2m10s (Matt Berry; maybe 'read out' is a particle verb?)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwhRQYf–KM (Ludacris)

  32. Glenn Bingham said,

    May 29, 2011 @ 10:49 pm

    Compiling from Zwicky’s notes, Ran Ari-Gur’s in/into notion, Kass’s original inside ideas, and others…

    John walked out of the house. (vs. John walked in+to the house.)
    Agent does something that has the agent leave the container of the house.
    As D Sky Onosson reflects, there is no through-ness consistent with this activity.

    John walked out of the door. (John walked in through the door.)
    Agent does something that has the agent leave unspecified container through portal (to adopt Steve Kass’ term) of the door.
    As D Sky Onosson reflects, there is through-ness of the door consistent with this activity.

    John walked out the door. (John walked in the door.)
    Agent does something that has agent pass through door.
    This is through-ness sans leave-container-ness. In other words, the subtle difference between this one and the one immediately above is that the focus of this sentence is the passing through the portal rather than the leaving of a container. Although it is directional, there is no claim for a container involved. (…out/in/through [*of] the door.)

    John jumped out the window. —same as above.

    John glanced out the window. (John glanced in the window.)
    An agent fixes eyes and attention through a portal.
    Nothing moves, certainly not the agent. On the other hand, the agent also seems to be an experiencer of the glance, receiving the sense data. In an abstract sense, however, the glance passes through the portal (or membrane).
    Note: John’s glance went out the window.
    *John’s glance went out of the window.
    The second fails because there is no exiting of a container. The glance passes through the portal.

    John looked out of the car. (John looked in+to the car.)
    An agent (/experiencer) fixes eyes and attention from a container.
    The look (glance, peering) emerges from a container.

    Therefore, “out of” indicates the exiting of a container, whereas “out” indicates the passage through a portal. “Into” parallels “out of” when the container is specified.

  33. Ben Hemmens said,

    May 30, 2011 @ 5:54 am

    Steve Kass & Joel Fineman:

    "Fog was coming out his mouth" and "A chipmunk came out a hole in the tree"

    I'm not sure there isn't a shift towards the of versions with come as compared to go. I'm not sure there is, either …

  34. Mary Bull said,

    May 30, 2011 @ 6:45 am

    @Bob Ladd, " … Or down: down the street, down the stairs, down the hill are all fine, suggesting that the object of the preposition specifies the route, but down at the beach, down in the basement, down to the shop require an extra preposition if we're talking about a location or a destination. Except in fixed expressions like New England down cellar and British down the pub."

    And down town? Which, actually, at some point has become a single word, "downtown," and is sometimes used as a noun as well as an adjective, as noted in Merriam-Webster on-line. How fascinating these changes are!

  35. Dakota said,

    May 30, 2011 @ 10:24 am

    "out the wazoo"
    [Google doesn't bear me out, but] this is Just Plain Wrong; it's "up the wazoo". Even better is "up the ying yang." "Up" will probably fit the container theory if you consider gravity – whatever is in surplus is not flowing through or out, it's being hoarded.

  36. Ken Brown said,

    May 30, 2011 @ 11:57 am

    Thinking of "down the [Jersey] shore – I'm originally from Brighton in England and my unreliable introspection tells me that I can go "down the beach" or "down the seafront" (which mean different things). Not "shore" though – for me that word means something a bit different. I can also go "down the Level" (a public open space in the centre of town) and I've heard people in London talking of going "down Brighton".

  37. Ben Hemmens said,

    May 30, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

    I often used to be down the beach or down the village in my youth.

    But aren't we getting a bit off of the topic?

  38. Yale said,

    May 30, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

    This behavior appears to follow the permissibility of adding "through" after "out":
    Walking out through the door –> Walking out the door
    *Walking out through the house –> Walking out of the house

  39. blahedo said,

    May 30, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

    It's certainly relevant that the ears be viewed as portals rather than containers for "out the ears" to work. It sounds fine to me because the source of the sparks would presumably not be the ears themselves but something further in (his brain or some other spark-generating device).

    However, if you set up a scenario where the ear is a container, it's different:

    *There was so much earwax that it was coming out his ears.
    There was so much earwax that it was coming out of his ears.

    Similar examples for the mouth (apologies for the relative grossness of the semantic content):

    *His jaw hung open and the saliva just drooled(/poured/came) out his mouth.
    His jaw hung open and the saliva just drooled(/poured/came) out of his mouth.


    The smoke was blown in his nose and puffed(/floated/came) out his mouth.
    The smoke was blown in his nose and puffed(/floated/came) out of his mouth.

    Both seem ok in this and similar grosser examples where the *source* of the material is the lungs or stomach without spending any significant time *contained* in the mouth, although the "out of" form does seem to draw attention to the mouth-as-container.

    Otoh, with things like doors and windshields, they really don't serve both roles (portal and container), so we don't see the semantic contrast.

  40. dw said,

    May 30, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

    Pflaumbaum said:

    out the + NP is so completely normal to my ear that I was about to query whether this restriction was an AmE thing. But checking in CGEL (p.639), it actually says the construction without 'of' is mainly AmE (or informal).

    I accept that it's less formal than out of, but is

    Yesterday I walked out the house in my underwear really non-standard (the sentence, not the behaviour)?

    I was taught at (British) elementary school that "out the X" is always wrong and have internalized this rule. As a result I generally remember instances of "out the X" constructions in highly edited prose (e.g. "quality" newspaper articles, etc.). I don't remember seeing them that often — maybe once in a while in the NYT at the weekend (when a different team of copyeditors seems to work).

  41. George said,

    May 31, 2011 @ 1:45 am

    Re 'out the window' vs. 'out of the window', there's nothing remotely scientific about this but when I closed my eyes and imagined myself looking out OF the window, I saw a bay window and I was 'in' it, in a way I couldn't be 'in' an ordinary window. So, to come back to MollyMooly's post at 2.52 pm on 28 May, might there be some difference between Britain and North America in the prevalence of texts set in the sort of places that have more bay windows, grand country houses, what have you? And might that be what led Jeremy Smith to draw his conclusion(which strikes me as odd too, although I'm Irish rather than British)?

  42. Nathan Myers said,

    May 31, 2011 @ 2:57 am

    I had a professor who insisted German was better than English because German, he said, did not allow you to say "the cat jumped through the window"; it requires you to say either "the cat jumped in the window" or "the cat jumped out the window". I took that as an argument for the opposite position.

  43. George said,

    May 31, 2011 @ 5:20 am

    Incidentally, I find the 'light x on fire' allocution far more odd than "out my ears"

  44. marc said,

    May 31, 2011 @ 9:48 am

    Hypercorrection in the form of including the 'of' where it's not needed (in ref. to the 'out of the wazoo' examples found on the inernet) is probably a reaction to AAVE lack of 'of' where it is used in SAE: 'He jumped out the car' etc.

  45. KevinM said,

    May 31, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

    When someone says that, it makes me want to go upside his head.

  46. marc said,

    May 31, 2011 @ 4:51 pm


  47. Steve Kass said,

    May 31, 2011 @ 5:01 pm

    Or fenestrate them.

  48. Nightstallion said,

    June 1, 2011 @ 4:08 am

    >I had a professor who insisted German was better than English because German, he said, did not allow you to say "the cat jumped through the window"; it requires you to say either "the cat jumped in the window" or "the cat jumped out the window". I took that as an argument for the opposite position.<

    Oh really? I'm a native German speaker, and that doesn't make any sense to me. "Die Katze sprang durchs Fenster." (through) is fine. "Die Katze sprang aus dem Fenster heraus." and "Die Katze sprang ins Fenster hinein." don't really sound good; qualifying "Die Katze sprang durch das Fenster hinein/hinaus." is okay, but not necessary.

  49. Jeff Adams said,

    June 5, 2011 @ 3:19 am

    What about "come out the other side"? To me, "come out of the other side" sounds awkward, especially if it refers to a struggle or transformation in life as opposed to a physical passage (although "come out ON the other side" sounds fine).

    Just curious–is the cry "We have X coming out our ears!", used by those plagued by or oversupplied with something, common in English-speaking areas outside (Or is that outside of?) the US, and if so, would "out of our ears" be more usual?

  50. Late to the party said,

    November 7, 2012 @ 9:40 am

    In summary:

    The preposition 'out' should be used to denote an object exiting through a portal (as opposed to a container):
    Examples: the boy went out the front door, the heat escaped out the open window, sparks shot out his ears, the ballistics expert concluded that the bullet exited out his right eye

    The construct 'out of' should be used to denote an object transitioning from within to outside a container (as opposed to a portal):
    Examples: the boy felt the cold wind as soon as he was out of the door, the glass pane fell out of the window, earwax overflowed out of his ears, the surgeon took the bullet out of his right eye

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