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The children looked out of the window of their house and saw snow falling outside. The children wanted to play in a place that near to their house like their backyard.

In this case, do we say "they ran out to play in the snow" or "they ran outside to play in the snow"?

We often use "out" for activities that are not close to our house. For example, "we went out for dinner" implies we went to some restaurant or place which may not too close to our house.

We often use "outside" for activities that are close to our house. For example, "we went outside for dinner" implies we went to our backyard or garden or place which is close to out house.

But "out" sometimes means "outside". For example, "There were children playing out in the street."

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    Children going 'out to play' is an established phrase that implies nothing about distance, just that they are out of doors. – Kate Bunting Jan 9 at 15:48
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    run out [of the house] to play. Versus: run outside to play. They mean exactly the same thing. The trick is understanding implied prepositional phrasing.... – Lambie Jan 9 at 16:29
  • @KateBunting, But people will get confused if I change "run" to "go". "they went out to play in the snow" and "they went outside to play in the snow" are very different – Tom Jan 9 at 16:39
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    I wasn't suggesting that you should change run to go, I was just explaining that out in this context doesn't imply distance from the house. Those two expressions are not 'very different', they mean exactly the same. – Kate Bunting Jan 10 at 9:05
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I don't know where it is written that out means far from home somewhere, and outside means near home somewhere. Outside would definitely mean out of something, but that in general could be anywhere.

But yes, looking at the sentences you posed as examples, people are likely to interpret 'out' as somewhere other than home premises, and 'outside' meaning in the lawn or garden or lake which is outside the four walls of the house.

In this case both would be pretty evident and intelligible that the kids went outside the house or out of the house to play, since the mention of house is already done previously. So you may say,

The children looked out of the window of their house and saw snow falling (outside). The children wanted to play in a place near to their house. They ran out/outside in their backyard to play in the falling snow (and build a snowman).

Or you may reconstruct the sentence in such a way, that there is no need to use the words out/outside, as follows:

The children looked out of the window of their house and saw snow falling (outside). The children wanted to play in a place near to their house. They ran to their backyard to play in the falling snow (and build a snowman).

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  • Dhanishtha, why a 'petite' snowman? The French word is usually used in English to describe a small, slim woman, or clothes designed for the shorter woman. – Kate Bunting Jan 9 at 15:44
  • @KateBunting I had heard it somewhere once upon a time, don't remember the story. I just thought of putting the adjective to describe the snowman, I will remove it if it looks offensive or biased. – Dhanishtha Ghosh Jan 9 at 15:46
  • No, there's nothing offensive about it! I was just puzzled as to why you had introduced such a word when the snowman in the picture isn't especially small. (Also, petite is the feminine form in French so it isn't appropriate for a 'man'.) – Kate Bunting Jan 9 at 15:57
  • But people will get confused if I change "run" to "go". "they went out to play in the snow" and "they went outside to play in the snow" are very different – Tom Jan 9 at 16:40
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    @Tom Nice observation. The reason I have restructured the sentence in my answer. If you include the word 'backyard' later in the third sentence, no matter the verb, the reader will have clear idea that the kids went just out of the house, like outside the four walls. However, if you wish to keep the sentence structured your way, then you have to choose the verb wisely! – Dhanishtha Ghosh Jan 9 at 16:46

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