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He pointed towards the outside of the room

I'm wondering if that's a grammatically correct sentence. It sounds a bit off, but after analysing it a bit, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong.

He pointed towards the mountains.

That sounds fairly well and there doesn't seem to be any problems. "The mountains" is a location, and "the outside of the room" is also a location, yet the first example sounds slightly wrong for some reason, but I can't see which part is wrong.

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    I think it's more natural to say he pointed towards outside the room. A room doesn't have an outside that belongs specifically to that room. Outside the room is a location that could be anywhere that isn't in the room, so the definite article makes it sound a bit strange. – ColleenV Jul 1 '15 at 23:32
  • It's perfect to say "He pointed toward(s) the outside of the room. The outside is a noun that means the outer part or side of the room. You can also use outside as a preposition and say " He pointed outside the room. – Khan Jul 2 '15 at 2:46
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As you say, there's nothing actually wrong with the sentence itself. It is grammatically correct.

The reason it sounds 'off' to your ear is that pointing, as an action, is supposed to indicate something with a relative degree of precision, but 'the outside of the room' is an indeterminate location - it includes the shop down the road, the nation of Paraguay, the International Space Station and the constellation of Orion. How do you precisely indicate all that with one finger?

So the sentence doesn't really make sense, and gives little useful information.

  • Indeed, usually one would say something like "He pointed toward the far end of the room" or "toward the door". – Aaron Brown Jul 2 '15 at 0:24
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Technically, any direction points toward the outside of the room, so the phrase does not necessarily have much meaning. It might be used in a room with a single entrance, and "pointed towards the outside of the room" would be used to refer to the area immediately outside the entrance.

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There is one case where your example phrase makes logical sense.

If the person is in a very large room, and not in the center, then

He pointed towards the outside of the room

would be most likely understood as pointing towards the nearest wall, i.e. the shortest path to the outside of the room.

You could replace "the outside of the room" with "outward"

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