How can I subset point data from outside of polygon data in R? Currently, I can subset point data inside polygon data, now I want to get point data outside polygon data.

nc <- st_read(system.file("shape/nc.shp", package="sf"))
nc_point <- st_sample(x = nc, size = 100)
nc1 <- nc[1:50,]

nc_point[nc1]  %>% st_geometry() %>% plot(add=T,pch=16,col="blue")

I want to get the data easily as follows.


1 Answer 1


You can see which polygons are under points with:

st_intersects(nc_point, nc1)

which returns a list of the same length as nc_point. If the point isn't in a polygon then it returns integer(0) elements.

So you can any of a few ways of turning that output into TRUE/FALSE to then select your points. For example, look for length-0 elements in the list:

sapply(st_intersects(nc_point, nc1),function(x){length(x)==0})

That gives you a logical vector you can subset with:

> b = sapply(st_intersects(nc_point, nc1),function(x){length(x)==0})
although coordinates are longitude/latitude, it is assumed that they are planar
> nc_point[b]
Geometry set for 61 features 
geometry type:  POINT

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