"Inside" 中・内・内側 whats the difference?

When these three are used to mean “inside”, “within”, etc… What is the difference or nuance between them? If one was to be replaced with a another would it change the meaning? Please, any insight would be greatly appreciated! \(^o^)/

Also WaniKani provides some example sentences, but they all seem the same to me…

The inside of the vacuum cleaner was empty.

Please paint the inside of the box pink.

I’ll wait for you inside Resona Bank.


Note that both the second and third are 内側, but one just doesn’t use the kanji for がわ

Don’t have time to go through the nuances at the moment, but if no one else does I’ll edit this post later.


Nice catch! on that example sentence! My eyes glossed right over that kana.
And thank you in advance if you happen to go through the nuances for my sake! :smile:

Might as well just post down here rather than edit.

中 is more likely to refer to physical or spatial “inside” than 内 is.
内 is more likely than 中 to refer to an abstract “inside.”

内側, because it has 側 in there, refers to the side that is internal… which is not always the same as “inside” in English. If that makes sense.

For instance, I don’t think 内側 would generally refer to the inside of something that is solid. There has to be some open space or accessible surface for there to be a 側 at all.

So, リンゴの中にたねがある is okay
リンゴの内にたねがある is acceptable, but probably less common
リンゴの内側にたねがある is strange

内部ないぶ is another word, which is restricted mostly to buildings when used in a spatial sense, and organizations or groups of people when used in an abstract sense.

Lastly, 内側 has an alternative onyomi reading, ないそく, which is a medical term meaning “medial.” Not directly related I guess, but good to know to avoid confusion.

Mostly sourced from here and confirming with some natives.


Thank you sooo much @Leebo! For both this and past disambiguations you have helped me with!
Also I was completely unaware Goo辞書 has a quasi-synonym search function. Good to know!

How about 横内, which I’ve come across a few times lately? (In the context of, for example, 静岡駅横内 being given as the location of the local tourist information centre.)

Just FYI, I reread the 内部 section of that thesaurus entry and rewrote my post because I misunderstood it the first time.

I don’t think that’s a normal compound. I think 内 is a suffix there.

Aha, I misread. It’s 構内. I get the nuances of it now. :slightly_smiling_face:

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derp, never mind

That mostly came from the way the thesaurus entry I linked described them. Did you check it out? Personally, spatial usage of 内 feels strange to me. I don’t think I would ever use it that way myself. Do you have examples of how you would use 内 or how you described it being used?

Like if you wanted someone to put something in a box, would you say この箱の内に置いてください or something like that?

One “spatial” use is 内回り (うちまわり), which is used in martial arts to talk about turning “inside” someone’s arm – between their arm and their body – and which jisho.org says refers to the inner lanes of a track or other circuit.

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