In vs. Within In English Grammar

Difference Between In and Within In English Grammar

‘In’ and ‘within’ are the prepositions in English which indicate time and place. ‘In’ describes the relation of a noun in locative case. It means that it describes the location of a thing or a person. Look at the sentence:

He lives in Mumbai.

In the above sentence ‘in’ describes the location of a person. ‘He’ is the person and his location is ‘Mumbai’.

For the use of preposition ‘within’, look at the following example:

He lives within his capacities.

In the above sentence preposition ‘within’ conveys the sense of limits of something. In the sentence a person does not go beyond his capacities. There is a limit of his capacities whether financial or physical.

‘In’ and ‘within’ can be used as prepositions of time. ‘In’ mean ‘in a certain duration of time’ while ‘within’ means ‘in the limit of a certain time’. For example:

I can cross the park in 5 minutes.

You are to complete your word within 30 minutes.

In the first sentence ‘in’ conveys the sense that a certain action will take a specific amount of time. There is no limit set. On the other hand, in the second sentence, a limit of 30 minutes is set for the work. 31st minute is not allowed. Thus, while using ‘in’ and ‘within’ as prepositions of time, one should take care of the difference between the two.

‘In’ also conveys the sense of time at the end of which a certain work will be completed. For example,

I will complete the work in five days.

I will have to complete the work within five years.

The above sentence means that the work will be complete exactly after five days period of time. On the other hand ‘within’ gives the sense of limit of time within which a certain work has to be completed. In the second sentence five days is the limit of completion of a work. Thus the difference is clear.


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  • D-5

    hi there

    which of the following is correct?

    You will receive a response within five days at the latest. You will receive a response in five days at the latest.