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  • Writer's pictureDavid Nagai

Spread vs. Spread Out

Updated: Mar 26, 2022

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between spread and spread OUT? Wait no longer. I'll explain here.


We can spread intangible/invisible/uncountable things (information, rumors, gossip, news, ideas, viruses, religion, culture, fear, anxiety) and tangible things that are like paste or gel (butter, jam, red bean paste, pudding). We also say “spread your legs” referring to shifting one’s legs apart, like when the airport security checks your body for prohibited items. Paint is a mix of paste and liquid, but we usually just say, “paint the wall” or sometimes, “put the paint on the wall,” but technically, we also can say, “spread the paint” if we are emphasizing that it should be spread more fully or evenly in a specific area.

“Spread the word” is a request for someone to share information and announce something. You can also say, “I want to get the word out,” meaning, I want spread some information.


During coronavirus, a lot of rumors were spreading around the world.

The news was spreading quickly about what the president said.

Christianity spread to various countries in the 17th and 18th century.

Fear spread even faster than the pandemic itself.

I prefer to spread the peanut butter onto the bread first, followed by the jam.

The pregnant woman spread her legs, pushed, and the baby was delivered smoothly.

Spread out

We can spread out tangible/countable/visible things (cards, shirts, game pieces, pencils) usually on a table or some type of space that is not too large (room, lawn, etc.).

However, you can also ask people to “spread out,” which means they should move away from each other to create some distance between each person. Or, if the police are searching an area for a criminal, they might “spread out” in order to cover more area and find the criminal faster.


Can you spread the cards out on the table?

Spread out the tables so there is enough room for guests to walk around comfortably.

Spread out the sheet on the bed and see if it fits okay.

Let’s spread out in different directions and meet back here in 3 hours.

Little kids never know how to spread out when they play soccer!

I hope that helps you differentiate between spread and spread out. Let me know if you have any questions.


Want to connect with the changing world in English?

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(Advanced and intermediate only)

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