They are similar enough to generally not cause an issue of clarity in a sentence, but I am curious which of these is more logically sound:

It was instilled upon me at an early age.


It was instilled within me at an early age.

closed as off-topic by Andrew Leach Jul 10 '18 at 19:27

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    To instill is to put inside or put in. You want to say within. – Dan Bron Sep 25 '15 at 16:32
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    With Google ngram you can get a sense of what native speakers tend to say: books.google.com/ngrams/… – TRomano Sep 25 '15 at 16:47
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    "Instilled in" or "instilled into". – Hot Licks Sep 25 '15 at 17:50
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    Apart from one with no preposition at all, every example sentence in Oxford uses in or into. None uses on, upon or on to. – Andrew Leach Jul 10 '18 at 19:27

The 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (p. 286 or section 5.195) says the correct usage is either in or into and never with. I wouldn't use upon either. Thus, the correct sentence is

"It was instilled into [in] me at an early age."

CMS_17th Edition

  • The CMS, by the way, is one of the most if not the most accredited grammar authorities. – user305707 Jul 10 '18 at 19:20

To me, the first option is definitely more common, but gives slightly more of a feeling that something was imposed than "within me". Both are fine IMO.

  • Many Q&A sites on the Internet expressly welcome personal opinions as answers, but SE in general (and EL&U in particular) have a more technical bent and require all answers to provide expertise, supported by citation or reference to authority. – Dan Bron Sep 25 '15 at 17:38
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    Of all the answers I've got' I've NEVER had one with a citation or reference. I rarely ever see citations or references in answers. I see hundreds of answers where linguists give their own opinions and ideas. Strange. – MoniqueH Sep 25 '15 at 18:26
  • Let me rephrase then: SE encourages substantiation in answers ;) (PS: I didn't downvote you.) – Dan Bron Sep 25 '15 at 18:27

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