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I have a question about the usage of the prepositions "in" and "under". Suppose the context is John giving $1000 to Jane as part of some agreement:

  1. They signed an agreement in which John gave Jane $1000.
  2. They signed an agreement under which John gave Jane $1000.

Both versions using "in" and "under" are likely standard English found in newspaper articles, and in general probably loosely mean the same thing to most people. But is there any minor differences in meaning between "in" and "under"?

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You can be in or under an agreement, so both are valid. Under has an implication that it's a written or legal agreement (similar to something being "under contract").

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If we are talking about something that has been signed we are talking about a legal document. The agreement will contain details of what John has promised to do. If we use precise terminology the agreement will have in it the details of the promise.

They signed an agreement in which John undertook to give Jane $1000.

The actual action of giving was under the terms of the agreement, the agreement determined John's behaviour

They signed an agreement under which John gave Jane $1000.

So if we talk about the actual content of the agreement then use in and if we talk about the resulting actions use "under".

If on the other hand we are simply talking about an agreement between two people, not signing anything

Their agreement was that John should give Jane $500.

They were in agreement that ...

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