In vs. Within

We use both in and within to identify that an object is inside something else. However, there are differences among them which we will learn in this article.

"In" vs. "Within" in the English grammar

What Is Their Main Difference?

'In' and 'within' are both correct in the sense of time and location. Their difference is that 'in' is used when there is a specific time or a definite location while 'within' is used when there are boundaries and parameters.


We use 'in' when something is enclosed or surrounded by something else. This could apply to both a time frame or location. 'In' is specific and definite about the location or the time. Have a look:

Harry is in the lobby.

Here, the subject is 'located' inside a lobby and a building.

Harry woke up in the morning.

Here, the subject finished an action at a specific time.


'Within' also helps with expressing time and location but there is a small difference. 'Within' needs estimation and parameters to be accurate otherwise the sentence would be hazy and confusing to the audience. Take a look at the following examples:

Harry is within the lobby.

Here, we are not sure the exact location of the subject other than a general information of its whereabouts.

Harry is within the 5 meters perimeters of the lobby.

Here, we know that the subject is inside a exact position of the main location.

Harry will wake up within the time frame you gave him.

Here, we know that an action will be done by the subject at a specific time frame.


'In' and 'within' are interchangeable as both prepositions refer to spatial or a logical relationships of two subjects. You need to pay attention that if you are using 'within' instead of 'in,' you need to provide estimation.


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