While reading an article about the benefits of staging, I came across a sentence that said, in part: “…so buyers can see themselves living within the house.”
“Within the house” hit a jarring note, so of course I had to find out if it was “just me” or if that truly was the wrong word to use.
It wasn’t just me.
As it turns out, there are times when either word will do, However, according to https://grammar.yourdictionary.com , “…“within” and “in” do have a few subtle differences that make one choice better than another.”
- “Use “in” to show something definite, to substitute into and for inclusion.“
- “Use “within” for an estimate or to show something inside boundaries.”
What the heck does that mean?
It means that the sentence that hit me wrong should have said “in the house.”
Here are some examples of the proper use of each:
- The keys are in the car.
- The salad is in the refrigerator.
- I live in Idaho.
- My notebook is in the house.
- You are in big trouble. (Can you envision telling one of your children that they are within big trouble?)
- Go jump in the lake. (Substitute for into.)
- Joe is in the military (shows inclusion)
Within is a word that provides boundaries in either time or place.
- Please reply within 3 days.
- We will arrive within 4 hours.
- Dogs are not allowed within the fenced area.
- Never store toxic products within the reach of toddlers.
Such errors are small, and many would not notice them. But for those who DO notice, they’re like stop signs in the middle of the copy. And stop signs, as we know, halt the flow.
Our goal should always be to let the words “disappear,” leaving behind only the ideas we want to convey.
That means: No stop signs!
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