What are the difference between these 2 expressions.

Wir gehen aus

Wir gehen hinaus

I know that they are very interchangeable, but I would like to know what are the subtle differences with each other.

  • 1
    Note that interpunctation plays an important role in German. If "Wir gehen aus." is a complete sentence, it isn't at all interchangeable with "hinaus". If it is continued with "... dem Haus." the picture changes. Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 22:51

2 Answers 2


They are not interchangeable.

Wir gehen aus
We date someone, we go clubbing, wo go to a pub, ...


Wir gehen hinaus
We leave a building

In the first example the verb is


which is a separable verb. So »aus« is not an adverb, but part of the word »ausgehen«.

But in the second example you use the verb »gehen« together with the adverb »hinaus«.

  • Isn't hinaus an adverb? Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 17:29
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    @EnriqueMorenoTent You are right, it is an adverb (at least that's what's in the Duden). But apart from that, Hubert is right. "wir gehen aus" derives from the verb "ausgehen" while "wir gehen hinaus" derives from the verb "gehen" and the adverb "hinaus". Also "wir gehen hinaus" is not specific to buildings, it is also valid for leaving a zoo, a park or anything that has an exit. Sidenote: "wir gehen hinaus" or "hinaus gehen" in general is quite formal and usually only used in formal writing. Even when talking to my boss I'd say "raus" instead of "hinaus". Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 18:19
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    @NiklasMertsch: Even so, rausgehen and ausgehen are not interchangeable, either. Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 19:08
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    @O.R.Mapper That's true, but "hinaus gehen" and "(he)raus gehen" are. "Ausgehen" is something different, as Hubert pointed out. In general, Hubert is right, I just wanted to add these three things: 1. "hinaus" is an adverb, as Enrique asked. 2. "hinaus gehen" is not specific to buildings. 3. "hinaus gehen" is quite formal and is replaced by "raus gehen" in almost any situation (from my experience as a native German speaker). In fact I can't imagine a situation where I would say "hinaus gehen", apart from writing a novel or something like that. Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 19:18
  • @NiklasMertsch I would go as far as to say, that hinaus doesn't quite mean to go out of some exit. One expression where hinaus is used is "Er geht in die weite Welt hinaus". It kind of expresses out of something and towards some other place at the same time. Another use is "Geht hinaus!", which means "Go, get out there!" for example to spread a message.
    – Javatasse
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 20:42

Usually, the two verbs are not interchangeable; as you can verify in your dictionary, both words have multiple distinct meanings. However, there is, as far as I can see, one overlap in the sense "exit/leave (a room/house etc.)", which is why I'm writing a separate response. Compare the following examples:

(1) Sie ging aus, um ein Kleid zu kaufen. / (2) Der Kranke darf täglich nur eine Stunde ausgehen. / (3) Sie ging aus, [um] die Welt zu erkunden.

(4) Sie ging aus dem Zimmer hinaus, um die Suppe zu holen. / (5) Kannst du bitte hinausgehen? Ich muss noch etwas Privates mit meinem Mann besprechen. / (6) Lass uns in den Garten hinausgehen!

Here, ausgehen means to leave an apartment/a house/your home for a particular purpose. It is not possible to specificy the origin or the destination with a prepositional complement (*Sie ging aus der Wohnung aus ... *Sie ging in den Garten aus ....). The purpose of the departure, on the other hand, is frequently specified (1, 3). In (2), where the sick may leave [the hospital] only for an hour per day, it is implied. I would consider this use somewhat formal. In particular, I would be rather surprised to hear somebody use ausgehen in this sense in oral communication.

[Note that ausgehen in the - very frequent - sense "to go out to party, have fun" is related to (probably: derives from) this meaning: Lass uns heute Abend [zusammen] ausgehen! I'm ignoring this meaning for purposes of this response. It is listed separately in dictionaries, behaves in its own distinct way, and doesn't really correspond to any of the meanings of hinausgehen, as Hubert Schölnast's response clarifies.]

hinausgehen means to go outside or to exit (a room/apartment/...). In den Garten hinausgehen means to leave the building and enter the garden. If you are standing in a room with your husband and ask a third person the question in (5), you are asking them to leave this room (but not necessarily to leave the apartment/house). Unlike ausgehen, hinausgehen focuses on a physical movement from one place ("in") to another place ("out"). It is rare that the origin and the destination are left unspecified, but very frequent that the purpose of the action is unspecified. (2), for instance, does not require additional context to make sense. If hinausgehen were used, one would naturally expect a specification of the place he is allowed to leave for an hour (his room? the hospital building?).

I would say that hinausgehen could still work at least in (1) and (2) (with the above caveat); it is definitely the more flexible of the two. ausgehen cannot be used in (4-6), if only for the formal restrictions outlined above.


  • 2
    Refering your examples 1-3: you seem to be mixing "aus" with "raus". Man geht nicht aus, um ein Kleid zu kaufen, sondern allenfalls raus oder hinaus. Das gleiche gilt für den Kranken, der nur eine Stunde pro Tag rausgehen darf.
    – alk
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 8:50
  • @alk You are mistaken. Please see DWDS, dwds.de/wb/ausgehen, first meaning ("das Haus, die Wohnung für eine gewisse Zeit verlassen") and the examples there: Die Mutter ist ausgegangen, um Besorgungen zu machen. Der Kranke darf täglich nur eine Stunde ausgehen, Dann ging Fabian aus, sich die Gegend anzusehen; also Duden, Großes Wörterbuch der dt. Sprache, 4th ed., which gives the meaning "(zu einem bestimmten Zweck, mit einer bestimmten Absicht) die Wohnung verlassen, aus dem Haus gehen: sie war ausgegangen, um einen Besuch, um Einkäufe zu machen". This is what I'm referring to.
    – johnl
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 9:11
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    Fair enough. Still I am not aware the verb is activly used that way, but well ...
    – alk
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 10:39

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