1. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), adopted by the United Nations in 2016, all have one goal: by 2030, all inhabitants of planet Earth should be able to live in dignity.
  2. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), adopted by the United Nations in 2016, all have one goal: by 2030, all inhabitants of planet Earth should be able to live with dignity.

I am wondering which preposition is the right one here.

  • 2
    Both prepositions are fine, and I don't think there's any significant semantic or syntactic difference between them. But it's worth noting that until about a century ago, live with dignity was far more common than live in dignity. I'd guess the latter has gained traction by analogy with live in peace, where we never use with. Nov 13, 2019 at 13:54

2 Answers 2


You can't really go wrong with "with". As FumbleFingers mentioned in their comment, both prepositions can be used, and using "in" won't change the main essence or meaning of the sentence - the focus will remain on "dignity".

Google results: "with" is more common in AmE

Google Ngram shows both "to live in dignity" and "to live with dignity" were commonly used between 1950 and 1980. Since 1980, "with" has been used more often in that phrase. This trend holds true for "live in/with dignity".

There is a difference in the usage between AmE and BrE. "To live with dignity" has always been more popular and commonly used in AmE. In BrE, both were commonly used from 1900 to 1990; their usage appears to be have been very close until 2004 (check out the Ngrams).

Note that the numbers of google hits on those phrases don't really say anything meaningful (in = 209 and with = 229 after jumping to the last page).

Dictionaries: "with" wins hands down

When I looked up "dignity" on a few free online collocations dictionaries, I found "with" as the only preposition suggested.

None of the examples for "dignity" in Cambridge dictionary has "in" as a preposition. This holds true for Collins and Merriam-Webster as well.

Other concerns: just some observations - feel free to ignore

(1) From the few sources (1, 2, and 3) I skimmed through, it appears that the SDGs were set or adopted by the members in 2015 (they became official in 2016). You might want to look into that.

(2) One thing that may bother some people is the following:

The Sustainable Development Goals ... all have one goal ...

It is not wrong, but it sounds a little unidiomatic. But that is just a personal thing.

(3) I am not sure about your line of reasoning (because I don't know the content). Be sure to explain how the goals all relate to "dignity". I tried to make the link but failed to do so for some of the goals.

"... a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030." - UNDP

I personally think "dignity" is not the appropriate word to describe the quoted material. Again, ignore this if you are able to make the link.

  • 1
    +1. "other concerns"?
    – Eddie Kal
    Nov 13, 2019 at 22:14
  • @EddieKal Thanks, I just made some additional comments.
    – AIQ
    Nov 13, 2019 at 22:30

Dignity is a noun, meaning "the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect."

"WITH" as a preposition means: "accompanied by (another person or thing)" or "having or possessing (something)." Dignity in this case...

"IN" also a preposition means either:

  • "inside a container, place, or area",
  • "surrounded or closed off by something", or
  • "forming a part of something"

The only way one can live "in dignity" is if one considers dignity to be a 'container' of some sort.

While you can be "in a state..." of:

  • undress,
  • distress,
  • high agitation and so on,

One can only demonstrate qualities, it is very difficult to be "in" a quality of something. However you can posses the quality of dignity, or not, as the case may be.

Therefore, I would suggest that one can live 'with dignity', by being in possession of the qualities required to be worthy of respect and honour, but one cannot literally live within, or inside those qualities and therefore, by definition, one cannot [grammatically] live within dignity, since it is a state or quality of being.

You must log in to answer this question.

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