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I understand that the phrase on the outside is commonly used. However, I wonder if I can leave out on the.

Here's a sentence I took from this

He may be cheerful on the outside, but that’s not how he feels.

Why is this not:

He may be cheerful outside, but that’s not how he feels.

for the sake of simplicity?

I have 3 possibility thoughts about this problem:

  1. They have different meanings.
  2. Both are OK and always be OK.
  3. Sometimes we must put on the before outside depends on the context.

1 Answer 1

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Those mean two different things.

He may be cheerful outside...

This means that he is outdoors/not inside a building, so saying

He may be cheerful outside, but that’s not how he feels.

would get you strange looks from native speakers

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    I generally agree that "he's cheerful outside" sounds like "he is cheerful when he is outside", but I think it sometimes depends on context. For example, "You know how Duncan is: calm and collected outside, a raging mess inside" would probably be interpreted to mean "Duncan's inside or outside", not "when Duncan is inside or when he is outside".
    – stangdon
    Sep 9, 2021 at 16:48

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