• en dehors de: outside of, apart from
  • hors de: outside the reach of, out of (figuratively)
  • au-dehors de: outside of, beyond the border of
  • par-dehors de: surrounding the outside of

I'm trying to understand the differences in these prepositions when used in the sense of "outside."


There is an army outside the city.

  • Il y a une armée en dehors de la ville. (outside the city)
  • Il y a une armée au-dehors de la ville. (outside the border of the city)
  • Il y a une armée hors de la ville. (outside the reach of the city)
  • Il y a une armée par-dehors de la ville. (surrounding the outside of the city)

There is not much online explaining these differences. Does this sound right?

  • hors de la ville is outside the city too. surrounding is really autour de.
    – Lambie
    Oct 19, 2021 at 21:15

2 Answers 2


Your translations are good.

I'd say "hors de" feels closest to outside, and "en dehors" would be a little bit more like "on the outside" (on the side that is out). But it's just nitpicking.

Most importantly, "au-dehors" and above all "par-dehors" are very old-fashioned.
If I was to utter such a fact, being inside the city, I'd go with:

Il y a une armée dehors.

Also, "en dehors" has a clear opposite, "en dedans", that "hors" doesn't have (so it might be used for contrast if needed).

  • Il y une armée dehors, just means outside the place where you are but not a city.
    – Lambie
    Oct 19, 2021 at 21:17
  • dehors : à l'extérieur de ; synonyme de hors
  • au-dehors : à l'extérieur ; synonyme : extérieurement, loin
  • en dehors : ce qui n'est pas en dedans.
  • There should not be hyphens in "en dehors" and "en dedans", right?
    – angryavian
    Oct 19, 2021 at 19:24
  • 1
    @angryavian — au-dehors ou au dehors sont possibles, les autres ont été corrigés, merci de votre remarque. — NB. dedans a les mêmes règles de trait d'union que dehors.
    – Personne
    Oct 19, 2021 at 19:51
  • Thank you for the clarifications!
    – angryavian
    Oct 19, 2021 at 19:59

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