cafe is <outdoor or outdoors?>

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drinkwater

Senior Member
Taiwanese Mandarin
Hi.

If I want to make a sentence to describe an outdoor cafe, is it proper to say "the cafe is outdoors"?

That sentence doesn't seem to be grammatically right to me, because I would probably say "the cafe is outdoor", or "the cafe is opening outdoors".

Thanks for the help.
 
  • GregAC86

    Member
    British English
    'outdoors' and 'indoors' are adverbs.
    'outdoor' and 'indoor' are adjectives.

    The café is outdoors.
    It's an outdoor café.

    The children like playing outdoors.
    The children like outdoor activities.
     

    drinkwater

    Senior Member
    Taiwanese Mandarin
    'outdoors' and 'indoors' are adverbs.
    'outdoor' and 'indoor' are adjectives.

    The café is outdoors.
    It's an outdoor café.

    The children like playing outdoors.
    The children like outdoor activities.
    Hi, thank you. I know their lexical categories; I probably haven't figured out how to use them properly in English language.

    For example: "The candy is sweet."

    "Sweet" is an adjective. So if you ask me to make a sentence about an outdoor cafe, I would say "The cafe is outdoor", not "the cafe is outdoors." I would say "it's running / opening outdoors."

    I hope you understand what I meant. Thanks for the help.
     
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    Sheeno

    Senior Member
    British English
    Indeed, saying that there's a grammatical distinction between "outdoor" (adjective) and "outdoors" (adverb) does make things seem rather confusing, if only for sentences like "The café is outdoors".

    "outdoors" is often a noun, like in the sentence "I love the outdoors". The best way to think of "outdoors" as in your original post is that it is an adverb which means "in the outdoors". So, with "the café is outdoors", you're saying "the café is in the outdoors". To me, it's a bit like an adverb masquerading as an adjective.

    On the other hand, as GregAC86 rightly said, "outdoors" is a normal adverb and "outdoor" is a normal adjective if there is no copula (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_copulas) - look at his examples with the children playing. A copula, like "to be", normally links a subject with a subject complement - among many things, this means that it will be followed by an adjective rather than an adverb because it allows the adjective to refer back to the noun rather than the verb itself. What seems strange is that "outdoors", an adverb, is used after a copula, where usually it would be an adjective. To clarify:

    "She is kind" ("to be" is a copula so you use an adjective like "kind" because it refers back to "she")
    "She dances beautifully" ("to dance" is not a copula so you use an adverb like "beautifully" because it refers back to how she "dances")

    So, whilst I can't tell you why there is this discrepancy, if you are using a copulative verb, use "outdoors" instead of "outdoor", even though you would use a normal adjective if it were any other word. Hopefully that's not too confusing and someone else can clear this up a little bit! :)
     

    drinkwater

    Senior Member
    Taiwanese Mandarin
    I don't understand: In the example " she is kind", "to be" is a copula. So you use an adjective to refer back to "she." Then why is it wrong to say "the cafe is outdoor"? I mean to repeat your statement(maybe I did not understand it fully): "To be" is a copula, so I should use an adjective like "outdoor" to refer back to "cafe"?

    Thanks for the help.
     

    Sheeno

    Senior Member
    British English
    That's what I meant when I said "even though you would use a normal adjective if it were any other word" - for some reason, if you want to express that something is outside, you use an adverb instead of an adjective with a copula! Don't ask me why, English is full of these little discrepancies. Someone else could no doubt explain it better, but when we're talking about the places of things, it seems that we often use adverbs where we'd normally use adjectives: for example, you'd say "he is inside", even though "inside" is technically an adverb. I suppose it's like saying "he is here" or "he is there" - "here" and "there" are adverbs, shortened ways of saying "in this place" or "in that place", but we nonetheless use them in that context seemingly against grammatical convention. Sorry I can't explain it any better, I'm probably as confused as you are. :p
     
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    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    For example: "The candy is sweet."

    "Sweet" is an adjective. So if you ask me to make a sentence about an outdoor cafe, I would say "The cafe is outdoor", not "the cafe is outdoors."
    The examples use the verb 'be' in different senses (cf. AHD):

    1) to have or show a specified quality or characteristic: The candy is sweet.
    2) to occupy a specified position: The café is outdoors.

    In 2) the meaning of 'be' is completed by an adverbial (as in They are here.)

    I think the reason why The café is outdoor doesn't work is because outdoor café is an established term, a compound noun, and we cannot easily separate its constituting parts while retaining the original meaning. I believe this would work though: The café is an outdoor one.
     
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    Sheeno

    Senior Member
    British English
    The examples use the verb 'be' in different senses (cf. AHD):

    1) to have or show a specified quality or characteristic: The candy is sweet.
    2) to occupy a specified position: The café is outdoors.

    In 1) the meaning of 'be' is completed by an adverbial (as in They are here.)
    Do you mean in 2)? If so, that makes sense to me. The dictionary gives an example with a prepositional phrase: "The food is on the table". Like I said, "outdoors" is an adverbial way of saying "in the outdoors" just like all these other adverbs are other ways of expressing prepositional phrases ("here" = "in this place" etc.)

    It's very confusing, but I hope that's cleared it up for you somewhat drinkwater. :)
     

    drinkwater

    Senior Member
    Taiwanese Mandarin
    ...it seems that we often use adverbs where we'd normally use adjectives: for example, you'd say "he is inside", even though "inside" is technically an adverb. I suppose it's like saying " he is here " or "he is there" - "here" and "there" are adverbs, shortened ways of saying "in this place" or "in that place"
    Thank you, these are two great examples for me.
     
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