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Quick answer
"Extranjero" is an adjective which is often translated as "foreign", and "en el exterior" is a phrase which is often translated as "outside". Learn more about the difference between "extranjero" and "en el exterior" below.
An adjective is a word that describes a noun (e.g. the big dog).
1. (from another country)
a. foreign
Se le nota el acento extranjero cuando habla.You can hear her foreign accent when she speaks.
This means that the noun can be masculine or feminine, depending on the gender of person it refers to (e.g. el doctor, la doctora).
2. (person from another country)
a. foreigner
Hay muchos extranjeros que viven en Nueva York.There are many foreigners living in New York.
b. alien (legal)
Con ese tipo de visa, los extranjeros pueden permanecer en el país por un tiempo limitado.With that kind of visa, aliens can stay in the country for a limited period.
A masculine noun is used with masculine articles and adjectives (e.g. el hombre guapo, el sol amarillo).
3. (foreign land or lands)
a. abroad
Mis abuelos nunca han viajado al extranjero.My grandparents have never traveled abroad.
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en el exterior(
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
1. (on the area around)
a. outside
La cabina del avión está presurizada. En el exterior, sin embargo, la presión es cientos de veces mayor.The aircraft cabin is pressurized. Outside, however, the pressure is hundreds of times higher.
b. on the outside
Se aplica una capa de un barniz especial en el exterior de las contraventanas para protegerlas.A coat of a special varnish is applied on the outside of the shutters for added protection.
2. (outside a building)
a. outdoors
Mientras los niños islandeses pasan mucho tiempo en casa debido al clima, los caribeños pasan mucho tiempo en el exterior.While Icelandic kids spend a lot of time indoors because of the weather, Caribbean kids spend a lot of time outdoors.
b. out of doors
El cóctel puede celebrarse dentro del hotel o en una carpa en el exterior.The cocktail party may be held inside the hotel or in a tent out of doors.
c. outside
En la oficina se está calentito, pero en el exterior la temperatura es gélida.It's nice and warm in the office, but the temperature outside is extremely cold.
3. (in foreign countries)
a. abroad
Hasta aquí las noticas nacionales. En el exterior, destaca la firma del tratado de paz en Oriente Medio.And those were the news at home. Abroad, the main headline is the signing of the peace treaty in the Middle East.
b. overseas
Nuestra empresa necesita abrir nuevos mercados en el exterior.Our company needs to open new markets overseas.
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