13

Let's say I am supposed to meet my friend and I want to make sure that he is at home when I arrive, so I call him and ask

Are you out right now?

or

Are you outside right now?

The first expression sounds okay but what I want to know is that what will be interpretation of second expression and in what context it should be used.

8

In American English...

Are You Out?

This asks if they are out anywhere; not specifically outdoors. If your friends are at a restaurant or bar, you would ask them this.

Are you outside right now?

This is usually asked by you to your friend who is coming to your place/location or giving you a ride. You ask this to see if they have arrived.

You could also ask this to learn if they are outdoors (for example, you could hear wind in the background and ask 'Are you outside?' to confirm that thought).

Since it sounds like you are the one who is arriving to your friend's house, you could ask the following:

Are you home?

Are you there?

  • are you out=away from home;are you outside=are you outside the place where you live, work or are. And this is the same in all Englishes. – Lambie Jun 26 '16 at 17:19
  • Because "out" can have so many uses depending on context, I would suggest reversing the question if you mean to find out whether or not someone is home/at work: "Are you in at the moment?" An exception would be when context makes the intention obvious: "I'm knocking on your door, but you aren't answering. Are you out?" – Jesse Feb 20 '18 at 22:47
13

Yes.

In this context, asking "are you out?" is trying to establish whether someone is physically at home (or at the office) or not. Saying you are out means you are not home, as in somewhere else entirely. It has little to do with whether you are physically outside; you could be at the mall or at a friend's house and say you are out. You can also ask "are you in?", which means the opposite (i.e. "Are you home?").

On the other hand, when you ask "Are you outside?", you are asking whether someone is physically located outdoors, as in not located in a building or other indoor area.

  • 1
    To piggy-back on this, if someone worked outdoors a lot (like, say, an electric lineman), they could conceivably be inside while they were out (out in this context meaning "off work today"), and outside when they were in (with in meaning "at work today"). – J.R. Mar 15 '13 at 22:30
4

There are a couple of different additional points I'd add for each of these cases:

Out

There can be situations where someone is "in" or "out" and thus this can be used as a way of determining if someone doesn't want to play. "Are you out now?" would be a way to ask if someone doesn't want to play. There is also the connotation around one's sexual orientation. These are both cases where someone may say, "I'm out!" and it isn't about being outdoors/outside at all.

Outside

While there is the common view of not being inside of a building, there can also be a situation where one may be going to visit a friend and be asked, "Are you outside?" that is in reference to being outside of the person's residence at that point in time. This is rather specific to the proximity of the building is the point I'd stress here.

Alternatively, you could be leaving a club or airport and ask someone, "Is there a taxi outside?" which is in reference to the doors of the building as chances are there are numerous taxis driving around the city but your interest is in one's near the building that you could use to get to your next destination.

1

If the person is a drug dealer and you ask "Are you out?", they may believe you're referring to their merchandise. Slightly inappropriate, but true. You should associate "Are you out?" with some sort of context. "Are you out of [enter context here]". An example would be "Are you out of the house?" or "Are you out of the office?".

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