'Outdoor' or 'Outdoors'? What Is the Difference? | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 8 July 2024)

Outdoor vs Outdoors: Understanding the Difference

Outdoor is an adjective that is only used before a noun. It is used to describe things that exist or are used outside a building, as well as activities that happen outside:

✅ The local community centre recently renovated its outdoor basketball court, making it one of the best in the area.

✅ They sell camping equipment, hiking gear, and outdoor clothing.

✅ The outdoor concert was a huge success, with thousands of people attending.

✅ The outdoor fitness class combined cardio exercises with strength training in a picturesque park setting.

In contrast, outdoors functions as an adverb or a noun. As an adverb, it means 'outside, not in a building':

The kids were thrilled to finally go outdoors and play after being cooped up at home during the rainy days.

✅ We set up a tent and slept outdoors under the starry sky.

I love spending time outdoors, whether it's hiking, camping, or simply enjoying a picnic in the park.

✅ We decided to eat outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.

When used as a noun, outdoors typically includes the definite article the and refers to the natural world or countryside, well away from buildings and bustling areas:

We spent the entire day enjoying the outdoors.

✅ The beauty of the outdoors never fails to inspire me.

✅ Spending time in the outdoors can have a positive impact on mental and physical well-being.

✅ Summer is the perfect time to explore the great outdoors and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.

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Examples from the Media

Toronto will keep 10 outdoor pools open past the current season in an effort to provide relief from the heat as higher than normal temperatures hit the city. Toronto Star (2023)

Strategically placed outdoor lights can highlight your garden's features after the sun goes down. The Washington Post (2023)

I go camping, walking and swimming outdoors. The Age (2020)

Looking around at what she has done outdoors, one can only applaud her decision. Otago Daily Times (2022)

Bahram Golzari started the company in Edinburgh, in the mid-1980s, to make the challenges and breathtaking beauty of the outdoors available to all. The Scotsman (2023)

Aussies and the great outdoors go together like, well, a tent and a sleeping bag. The Sydney Morning Herald (2023)


Choose the correct word to complete each sentence.

1. The outdoor/outdoors market offers a wide array of fresh produce and handmade crafts.

2. The children spent the whole afternoon playing in the outdoor/outdoors playground.

3. The fitness instructor led a high-energy workout session outdoor/outdoors.

4. My friends and I went on a challenging overnight camping trip to test our survival skills in the great outdoor/outdoors.

5. The company organised an outdoor/outdoors team-building activity to foster collaboration and communication among employees.

6. The elderly couple sat quietly outdoor/outdoors, sipping tea and watching the sunset.

7. The outdoor/outdoors serves as a reminder of our connection to the natural world and the importance of preserving it for future generations.

8. The outdoor/outdoors photography workshop offered valuable tips for capturing the beauty of nature.

Answer Key

1. outdoor    2. outdoor    3. outdoors    4. outdoors    5. outdoor    6. outdoors    7. outdoors    8. outdoor

Recommended Further Reading

'Indoor' or 'Indoors'? What Is the Difference?

Real-World Examples of Misuse

The adverbial form outdoors is needed to describe where time is spent.
(Also by the Same Tutor: 1)

To describe where you are heading, you need the adverb outdoors, not the adjective outdoor.

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