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With and Within

With and Within
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Hello! This week on Ask a Teacher, we will answer a question from Mod, a reader of our website.


Could you please explain to me the difference between “with” and “within?”

Thank you,



Dear Mod,

Thanks for asking this question!

“With” and “within” are both prepositions. Prepositions describe a relationship to an area, place or time between two nouns.

Let us start with “with!”


“With” has several different uses. And depending on what the situation is, the meaning can change a bit.

The first use of “with” means together.

I went to the café with my friends.

In this sentence, I did not go to the café alone. My friends and I went together.

A second use of “with” describes a close relationship between two nouns, and it means “along,” “nearby” or “among.”

Does that hat go with this shirt?

In this question, the person is asking if the hat and shirt go along together or match.

And a final use of “with,” means being in opposition or against something.

She had a fight with her sister.

We can see in this sentence that sisters are having a fight or argument. They are against each other.

And now for “within.”


“Within” is also a preposition and is a combination of “with” and “in.”

There are two uses of “within.”

The first use means a period of time. For example, we can say:

The winner of the contest should answer within 2 days.

This sentence means that the winner has 2 days to answer back and no more than 2 days.

The last meaning of “within” describes a relationship between two nouns in an area, space, or limit. It can mean “inside of.”

There are many organs within the body.

This sentence means that inside the body, there are a lot of organs.

The store is within walking distance of my apartment.

This sentence means that the store is close or nearby to my apartment, so I can walk to it.

Please let us know if these examples have helped you.

What question do you have about American English? Send us an email at

And that’s Ask a Teacher.

I’m Faith Pirlo

Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.

Words in This Story

cafén. a coffee shop or small restaurant

matchv. to complement or look nice together

contestn. a game or competition that people try to win

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