Michael Finance Law
Professional Teacher
Within / during + time expressions

One of my students asked me to explain the difference between "within" and "during" in the context of time expressions.

I could not find an exercise for him to practice this and so I made up my own brief one - see below. Any feedback from teachers and/or students would be welcome.  Thanks.

Within / during + time expression<o:p></o:p>

Within and during are both used with time expressions.<o:p></o:p>

During + period or thing that extends over time but the precise duration is not defined e.g. during the night, during the journey<o:p></o:p>

Within + maximum specific duration e.g. within 3 weeks, within a year<o:p></o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>

Within <a href="https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/within">https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/within</a><o:p></o:p>;

During <a href="https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/during">https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/during</a><o:p></o:p>;

<o:p> </o:p>

Choose the more natural option – within or during – to complete the following sentences. In one of the sentences, either option is equally natural, in my opinion.<o:p></o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>

1.        [] the film we watched at the cinema, my mobile phone rang.  It was so embarrassing.<o:p></o:p>

2.       I gave my baby son a new book but [] 48 hours, he had destroyed it.<o:p></o:p>

3.       [] its maiden voyage, the Titanic hit an iceberg.<o:p></o:p>

4.       Don’t disturb me now.  I am expecting a call [] the next hour.<o:p></o:p>

5.       You must return the library book [] 3 weeks or face a fine.<o:p></o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>

May 18, 2018 12:55 PM
Comments · 3

Technically both words could be used in any of these examples, however one or the other sounds more natural, and is more often used over the other.

1. During

2. Within

3. During

4. Within

5. Within


In conclusion, I would tell your student that, "While both mean the same thing, use the word 'during' when given an indefinite timeline and use 'within' when specified the time." For example, in #2, the sentence context was 24 hours, so use "within" while in sentence #3, you said during the voyage, but didn't state how long the voyage was. Refer to sentence #4 and #5 for further explanation. #4 (The next hour) #5 (3 Weeks). #1 (The film). But how long was the film? It was not specified, so use "During." Hope this helps!

May 18, 2018
1. During the film we watched at the cinema, my mobile phone rang.  It was so embarrassing.
2. I gave my baby son a new book but within 48 hours, he had destroyed it.
3. During its maiden voyage, the Titanic hit an iceberg.
4. Don’t disturb me now.  I am expecting a call within / during the next hour.
5. You must return the library book within 3 weeks or face a fine.
May 18, 2018
Thanks, Nick.  Good answer.  I will edit my post to include your ideas. It would be nice if you could delete your answers so that NNESs can have a go.
May 18, 2018