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Er versuchte es daher, zuerst den Oberkörper aus dem Bett zu bekommen, und drehte vorsichtig den Kopf dem Bettrand zu. Dies gelang auch leicht, und trotz ihrer Breite und Schwere folgte schließlich die Körpermasse langsam der Wendung des Kopfes. Aber als er den Kopf endlich außerhalb des Bettes in der freien Luft hielt, bekam er Angst, weiter auf diese Weise vorzurücken, denn wenn er sich schließlich so fallen ließ, mußte geradezu ein Wunder geschehen, wenn der Kopf nicht verletzt werden sollte. Und die Besinnung durfte er gerade jetzt um keinen Preis verlieren; lieber wollte er im Bett bleiben.

Frank Kafka, die Verwandlung

What would be the difference in meaning, if I had put "aus" in place of ausserhalb?(bolded part)

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  • Note, that »Außerhalb« (the outside) is a rarely used noun while »außerhalb« (outside of) is an adverb. I corrected this in the title of your question. Commented May 27, 2023 at 14:55
  • @HubertSchölnast In your answer you mention außerhalb used as a preposition, but in this comment, you mention it as an adverb. This could be confusing to people who don't know that it can be both. So here is my comment: außerhalb can be preposition or adverb. Commented May 27, 2023 at 18:55
  • @EagleFliesBanana: Sorry, my comment was wrong. In this sentence it is a preposition. But there is a homonym that is an adverb. Example of the preposition (part of an adverbial phrase that modifies a verb): »Sein Haus liegt außerhalb des Dorfes.« Example of the adverb (a single word that modifies a verb): »Sein Haus liegt außerhalb.« Most adverbs don't have a homonym that is a preposition (drinnen, rückwärts, dort, heute, täglich, oft, gern, hauptsächlich, ...). Also most prepositions don't have homonyms that are adverbs (in, neben, bis, um, ohne, während, anstelle, ...). Commented May 29, 2023 at 8:39

1 Answer 1

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  1. Er hielt den Kopf außerhalb des Bettes.
  2. Er hielt den Kopf aus des Bettes.
  3. Er hielt den Kopf aus dem Bett.

Only changing außerhalb → aus creates sentence 2 which is grammatically wrong, because außerhalb is a preposition that needs genitive case, while aus needs accusative case. So, only #1 and #3 are correct sentences.

Let me explain the difference with another verb:

a. Er geht außerhalb des Hauses.
b. Er geht aus dem Haus.

Here are the translations:

a. He walks outside of the house.
b. He leaves the house. (He walks out of the house.)

So, (a) describes something that happens completely outside. Nothing moves from inside to outside. But (b) describes just that: a movement from inside to outside.

So, you could translate the two correct versions of the first sentence this way:

  1. Er hielt den Kopf außerhalb des Bettes.
    He held his head outside of the bed.
  1. Er hielt den Kopf aus dem Bett.
    He poked his head out of the bed.

So, in the context of the scene in Kafka's novel this makes not a big difference, because Gregor Samsa, being a bug, just a moment before moved his head from in the bed to outside the bed. But Kafka obviously wanted to point out, that this movement already had come to an end at the moment when Gregor started to feel anxiety. He was not afraid during the movement, but after it.

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  • makes sense why ausserhalb is gentive, with the house example
    – Babu
    Commented May 28, 2023 at 3:00

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