Consider the following sentence:

Her actions are out of concern for your feelings

I get confused when I try to understand " Out of" phrase. The sentence sounds to me that her actions are devoid of concern for his feelings, not that her actions are coming from her concern for his feelings. Can you please tell me if I am wrong with my interpretation? And why?

  • I think "out of" is more related to "because of". In your sentence, she acted BECAUSE of her concern for the other person's feelings. Hence, if we say, "Out of respect for the elderly, I offer my seat to them." it means that because of respect, you offer your seat. (whatever MOTIVATES you is purely relative). It can be emotion (you love your grandparents), or a past memory/experience (you saw an old person being disrespected), or you have the proclivity to be ethical/respectful.
    – shin
    Aug 14, 2015 at 8:23
  • Implying further, that you'll still offer your seat even if you know that the elderly is still strong enough to support himself/herself.
    – shin
    Aug 14, 2015 at 8:33

1 Answer 1


When used like in your example, "out of" means "motivated by" - functioning like an adverb. So, equally, you could say

Her actions are motivated by concern for your feelings.

To use "out of" in the sense that you considered; "to not have any left", would be ill-fitting in this example. This is because we might say

a person is out of concern (meaning: no concern left)

but not that

a person's actions were out of concern (natives would understand the meaning as the reason for doing these actions was through concern).

PRO TIP: When "out of" means "motivated by", it can be replaced by "through".

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