Here is the definition of the word within from Oxford Dictionary:

inside (something)

So does that mean the two words have no difference, and can be used exchangingly? Is there any connotation that one word can be used but not the other?

  • I of course meant you do not have a choice of either, you can only use within
    – mplungjan
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 9:25
  • 3
    You can use inside with time. Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 9:35
  • @Andrew - True, but you'd use it differently, I believe: Finished within an hour vs Finished inside of an hour.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 10:34
  • 2
    No, inside is never used with of in BrE. (Or at least, it's not standard) Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 10:36
  • 2
    On a slightly tangential note, do not use Google Translate, especially not for single words. It needs context. A lot of context. More than any dictionary will ask for. Simply do not use it for single words. You will only get into trouble. It will translate "Friday morning" as "Thursday morning" and you won't even notice. Do not do it. Why don't people use dictionaries anymore?
    – ЯegDwight
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 12:09

4 Answers 4


Inside may be used while describing position/location as opposed to outside. Example: The box is blue colored inside and black outside.

Within may be used for time/space. Example: I'll reach there within ten minutes. Stay within the boundaries.

  • 2
    Will this answer be improved inside the hour? :-) Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 12:40
  • The answer, though highly upvoted, is problematic. Is a "location" clearly different from a "space"? No. One can quickly appreciate the problem here by searching online for "positioned within", for example. Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 12:01

Like any two synonyms, there will be contexts where you can use either one, and there will be other contexts where most people would choose one word over the other. These two words are such general-purpose words (with some idiomatic usages as well) that I don't think we can begin to cover all the bases (that would not be within reason).

That said, here is one example where either word works just fine:

There were many troubles hidden inside Pandora's box.
There were many troubles hidden within Pandora's box.

Here's one place where I'd clearly use inside:

After the rain started, we went inside the house.

and another where I'd clearly use within:

Would Freddy be traded to another team? That was within the realm of possibility.

You can always use the Ngrams tool to check if a certain usage can go both ways, or if it generally doesn't. The Ngrams tool is not infallible, but, if you have an internet connection, it's always within reach.

There are a lot of external links embedded within this answer; I hope they lead to some fruitful research for the O.P.


Their meanings are similar, but they are likely to be used in different contexts. Within is perhaps a little more formal and dated. There is an important grammatical difference you need to be aware of. Within can be used only as a preposition and an adverb. Inside can additionally be used as a noun and an adjective.

  • Could you give me a sample sentence for within and one for inside ? Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 11:49
  • @Aldi - You should be able to find your own. Here are links to thousands of samples from published books: using within, and using inside.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 14:11
  • Do you want to show me the books?? Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 14:24
  • The blue words are links. Click on them; you should be able to see sentences (unless there is some sort of restriction at your connection).
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 14:54

They more or less mean the same thing.

Inside is more literal, one thing is in the other thing, like in a box.

Within doesn't necessarily mean "inside". You buy a VCR, and there's the user manual included within. That doesn't mean you need to unscrew the cover or take it out of the battery container of the VCR. It means it's in the box, included with the VCR. You buy a computer magazine and there's a CD included within - but the CD is in an envelope glued to the front cover, not inside the magazine. Of course "within" may as well be "inside" - you buy a toy, and "3 AA batteries included within" - they may be in the box, and you need to load them into the toy, or they may be already loaded and inside the toy. Anyway, "Within" is the middle ground between "Inside" and "Bundled" (the latter meaning included in the set, but definitely outside of the core item)

  • 2
    I'm not sure if I buy your explanation. The manual isn't included within the VCR, it's included within the packaging. It could equally be described as inside the packaging. Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 12:02

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .