Posted by: Jack Henry | June 13, 2019

Editor’s Corner: In or Within?

Good morning!

A couple of people have asked me if there is a difference between the words in and within. The quick answer is yes. But to give you the exact reasons, I did a little research. Here is what I found:

  • in: (preposition) denotes inclusion or location
  • within: (preposition) inside the boundaries or limits

So, the difference is that within has the more distinct meaning of “inside the boundaries or limits” of something else.

These examples may help:

  • Leslie lives in Roxbury.
  • Roxbury is an officially recognized neighborhood within the city of Boston.
  • The fireworks display takes place in two days.
  • Fireworks are illegal within the city limits.
  • New job assignments are in the works.
  • You must finish the job within one week.

A lot of people use within when in is the more appropriate choice. Maybe they think within sounds more professional or more formal. Maybe they think the two words are interchangeable, and to be honest, most people wouldn’t notice if you used within when you should have used in. Maybe, in the future, the words will be listed in dictionaries as synonyms (words that mean the same thing) because so many people use them that way. But for now, we do make a subtle distinction. And since you know what it is, you can be one of the few, one of the proud. Oh wait, that’s the Marine Corps slogan. You can just be unique and smug, then.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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