In vs. Within

I received a question from the Peanut Gallery today. Robert asks:

“What is proper usage of the word ‘in’ versus ‘within’?

In is a preposition that denotes inclusion or location. It can also mean “into.”


He is in the military.  (inclusion)

I live in Houston.  (location)

Go jump in the lake.  (into)

Within is also a preposition, but it has a subtle meaning of “inside the boundaries or limits.”


Fireworks are illegal within the city limits.

Do not store bleach within reach of young children.

When speaking about time, keep this subtle difference in mind.


I can finish the job in two days.  (plus or minus a few hours)

You must finish the job within two days.  (penalty if it takes 49 hours)

Here’s another example that shows the difference between location and boundaries:

She is in the box.

She thinks within the box.

Both mean “inside,” but the former denotes location, and the latter denotes a limit.

Profound Quotes of the Day

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

– Buddha
“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.”

– Mother Teresa


5 Responses to “In vs. Within”

  1. Within vs In « cloudflyfree Says:

    […] […]

  2. bouncegodzilla Says:

    “In” can also be a duration, as in “you can do it in less than an hour”, or “the food will be ready in twenty minutes”.

  3. Ruth Greben Says:

    If I am writing “She wants others to see the intelligence in her, or within her?

  4. Kevin Says:


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