Is there any difference between the following sentences?

I have coffee on the outside. It is referring to some coffee shop.

I have coffee outside.

Can anyone explain to me which of these constructs is correct?

1 Answer 1


I have coffee on the outside

This means that you have coffee on the outside of something. This does not mean you will drink coffee outside. For example you might be talking about the colour of paint:

It's painted red on the inside, but I have coffee on the outside.

"It has X on the outside" means that X is on the external surface of something.

If you want to say that you normally drink coffee outside then your second sentence is correct.

If you want to say that this time you will be outside, or that you'd like to be served your coffee outside then say:

I will have my coffee outside.

  • 1
    +1 It might be added that having your coffee "outside" means you're served on the premises but outdoors--at a sidewalk table, for instance-- not that you will take it away with you, which would be "carry-out". Aug 27, 2013 at 11:52
  • Could not "I have coffee on the outside" be understood as meaning that, outside the building where I am, I have coffee beans in a container, or should that be "I have coffee outside"?
    – apaderno
    Aug 27, 2013 at 13:43
  • 1
    @kiamlaluno that would be "I have coffee outside". On seems to always give the impression that the thing is on or around something else. "I have coffee on the outside" could mean "now that I'm out of jail I have coffee", but that is quite unlikely.
    – Matt Ellen
    Aug 27, 2013 at 13:58
  • Thank you. The equivalent in Italian (all'esterno = "on the outside") would not imply that. I could not say esterno to mean all'esterno. I know, Italian and English are different language, but the fact something they use the same phrase confuses me. :)
    – apaderno
    Aug 27, 2013 at 14:08
  • 1
    "On the outside" sounds decidedly awkward to me, but you did a great job coming up with an example where it fits, where "coffee" refers to a color, not a drink.
    – J.R.
    Aug 27, 2013 at 22:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .