I searched on Oxford Dictionary to find the meaning of out. It has been said that to indicate a public place for purposes of pleasure or entertainment, out can be used. Then it gives a phrase as an example to explain this usage. The example:

  • an evening out at a restaurant.

If I omit out, and rewrite the phrase as follows, what difference will it make, i.e. what are the differences between the first and second phrase?

  • an evening at a restaurant.

A restaurant is always away from the house. If I omit out, a reader will easily understand that an evening has been spent at a restaurant, which is a public place. So why would we use out before at?

  • Because you can spend an evening at a restaurant for purposes other than pleasure or entertainment. Example: I spent an evening at a restaurant arguing with my business partner about his latest inane proposal.
    – user20792
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 14:44
  • You can also say, I had an evening out last night (without a prepositional phrase saying where), and the "pleasure" meaning is clear. You can also use both That was some evening out last night and That was some evening last night and the two sentences have different meanings.
    – user20792
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 18:46

2 Answers 2


I upvoted DRF, but let me also add:

Take the flip side: You can "spend an evening out" at many places other than restaurants, like a concert or a movie theater.

If someone says, "I am going to spend the evening out at a restaurant", it is likely that the primary thought is "I'm going out", and "at a restaurant" is an additional detail added on. The emphasis is on "going out".

Compare to a sentence like, "I am buying a car from a Ford dealer." Is it necessary to say "car"? If you just said, "I'm buying from a Ford dealer", I think we'd assume you mean a car. You're unlikely to be buying a cell phone or a cherry pie from a Ford dealer. You might say that you need "car" just to make absolutely clear that you're not buying some side product they offer. (Service on your existing car, for example.) But the most likely reason to say it is because the point of the sentence is that you are buying a car, and where you are buying it is an additional detail.


The "out" does pretty much exactly what the Dictionary says. Namely it indicates that the evening at the restaurant was spent for purposes of pleasure or entertainment.

You can easily say we "Spent the evening at a restaurant," in the case where you work at the restaurant, or were there with a client on a harrowing meeting. But if you "Spent the evening out at a restaurant," the implication is you went with your wife and kids or friends, and the purpose was to enjoy yourself. Edit: As User1 notes you can also spend the evening out at a restaurant alone, maybe treating yourself instead of having to cook. The essential point is that you go to the restaurant for purposes of pleasure or entertainment.

  • +1 You can also spend an evening out and not be accompanied by anyone.
    – user20792
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 14:45
  • 1
    @User1 Good point, you certainly can. I just tend to go to places which are more fun than restaurants in that case.:) I will fix the answer though since I can see how one might infer that you must be with someone.
    – DRF
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 14:49

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