À l'extérieur v. dehors

À l'extérieur v. dehors

We were supposed to translate Daniel lives outside the city. I used "à l'extérieur de and it was marked wrong. The explanation was à l'extérieur is used in the geographical sense. To me, something being outside a city is pretty geographical. Also, I checked Linguee and this is what I got. Please note that most of the quotes in this list are from government websites. "https://www.linguee.com/english-french/search?source=auto&query=outside+the+city
Asked 2 years ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

I would argue that you can say both 'en dehors de la ville' and 'à l'extérieur de la ville' in this particular example ...

But just to correct the ealier " It's out of the question! " . It would be " C'est hors  de question!" 

Hope this helps

That's a good question and would benefit from the input of a true native speaker. Meanwhile, here is my understanding:

"À l'extérieur" refers to the exterior of something, while "dehors" is "outside of". There are cases where both would be OK but others, where you can't replace one by the other.

"L'extérieur de ta bouche est sale." -- You could not use "dehors" in this context to refer to the perimeter/outside of your mouth.
"C'est dehors la question!" -- It is out of the question! (Here you couldn't use à l'extérieur)

"L'extérieur" refers to a specific place, whereas "dehors" stands more for the outside in general or in a less literal way.

"Tu vis en dehors de la ville." -- You live out of town. (In a general sense)
"Tu vis à l'extérieur de la ville." -- You live on the "outside" of the town (in a more specific sense).

I hope that helps, -- Chris (not a native speaker).

Thanks for this, Chris.  If that is correct I think geographical was a poor choice of words to describe the meaning of à l'extérieur in the lesson.

Well.....yes and no. If you take geographical as meaning a well defined place as opposed to a more general notion of "not inside" then it is actually a pretty decent description. But it's hard to hang their difference on one word, geographical or not. :)

-- Chris. 

CécileKwiziq language super star

I would argue that you can say both 'en dehors de la ville' and 'à l'extérieur de la ville' in this particular example ...

But just to correct the ealier " It's out of the question! " . It would be " C'est hors de question!" 

Hope this helps

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