“into” versus “in to”

What is the difference?

Into and in to are two commonly confused words in the English language. When do you use each one?

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Although we say these the same way, they have different meanings. We use “into” as a preposition.

“Into” usually answers the question, “Where?”

Although there are many definitions of “into,” the most common definitions are: 1. toward the inside; in the direction of 2. hitting or touching

Examples:

  • The fox crawls into a hole. (The fox crawls where? Into a hole.)
  • He looks into her eyes. (He looks where? Into her eyes.)
  • He drove his car into the tree. (He drove his car where? Into the tree.)
  • The bird flew into the window. (The bird flew where? Into the window.)
  • He put his vote into the box. (Where did he put his vote? Into the box.)

“Into” can also mean to transform or change.

Examples:

  • The caterpillar changes into a beautiful butterfly.
  • The little girl turned into a princess.
  • He grew into a responsible adult.
  • James turned into a strong man.

This is actually two completely different words that sometimes fall next to each other in some sentences.

   1. in => adverb

   2. to => preposition

Examples:

  • I went in to use the telephone.
  • The dog goes in to get a drink.
  • She reaches in to get the mail.
  • I called in to remind him I am arriving today.
  • She came in to tell her about the news.

Grab a pencil and paper and take this short quiz to check your understanding. Then, scroll down to see the answers.    1. She threw the paper __________ [into/in to] the trash can.    2. I ran __________ [into/in to] the store to buy some milk.    3. They moved the wedding __________ [into/in to] avoid the storm.    4. The repair man came __________ [into/in to] fix the television.    5. The girl turned __________ [into/in to] a beautiful princess.    1. She threw the paper into the trash can.

   2. I ran into the store to buy some milk.

   3. They moved the wedding in to avoid the storm.

   4. The repair man came in to fix the television.

   5. The girl turned into a beautiful princess.

These were the differences between into and in to. Now that you understand, it's time to practice! Get our ESL teaching books.

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Commonly Confused Words: Into Vs. In To

A team of two little guys against one big fella — who will win? Into vs. in to is a classic grammar cage match, though the winner depends on the situation, of course. Let’s talk about how you can start telling between these two commonly confused words.

Deciding Between ‘Into’ vs ‘In To’ – With Examples

So what’s the difference between into and in to?

Use into when you want to say that the modified and modifier are moving or otherwise tending toward, through or against each other, physically or conceptually. Use in to for every other scenario. 

Into vs In To Examples

It all comes down to parts of speech. Into is always a preposition. In to is frequently made up of parts of verb phrases. Sometimes in is the end of a phrasal verb. Similarly, to is often the beginning of an infinitive form of a verb. Here are some into vs in to examples:

  • I just checked in to see how everybody was doing. (Phrasal verb and infinitive verb)
  • He flew in to Dulles Airport. (Phrasal verb and preposition)
  • She poked her finger in to test the pie. (Preposition and infinitive verb)

Using the ‘In To’ Vs. ‘Into’ Cheat Sheet

It’s still easy to make mistakes when using into or in to, especially when spellcheck doesn’t know the difference between log in to vs. log into. To help, here’s a table of some common phrasal verbs with usage examples.

Keep in mind that they might not apply if you mean the base form — break, check, log, and so on — literally, or if the word isn’t a verb. For example, you would roll a log into a river, but you would log in to an account.

Break in (to a diamond shop) Fly into (a frenzy) Log in (to Myspace)
Break into (song) Get in (to a club) Look into (a mystery)
Bump into (someone) Get into (stamp collecting) Move in (to a bigger house)
Call in (to work) Give in (to temptation) Plug in (to charge)
Check in (to the airport) Go in (to work) Plug into (the wall)
Check into (a mystery) Go into (the office building) Run into (an old friend)
Come in (to a diamond shop) Hand in (to the teacher) Sign in (to the library)
Come into (an inheritance) Head in (to the cave) Talk into (coming along)
Drop in (to visit) Let in (to the secure area) Turn in (to the authorities)
Fly in (to New York) Lock in (to a closet) Turn into (a werewolf)
See also:  "think different" or "think differently"

Into vs. In To: Meanings Matter

When studying into vs. in to, there’s plenty of room for confusion at first. That’s because correctness depends on the underlying meaning. Usually, everything becomes clear once you focus on what you’re trying to say. Take this simple homophonic sentence:

  • That leather broke into some soft pieces.
  • That leather broke in to some soft pieces.

They’re both very different. The first one conveys a sense of leather that falls apart. The second one means that the material became supple and flexible once the pieces were conditioned with time, care and wear. As you can see, into and in to convey unique meanings when inserted into the same sentence.

Using ‘In’ To Replace ‘Into’

In can often be substituted for into, but it’s less common that you can swap them the other way around. In is more general, typically speaking. 

Different people tend towards into or in to, and focusing on this detail can be a good way to capture how individuals talk. That’s useful in professional writing, especially if you’re attempting to gain credibility with a specific market or convey a different tone, for example. 

That begs the question: If in can often stand in for into, why does English have both words? Why is into a word? The biggest reason: Into is more specific, so using it can help avoid confusion in many cases.

When to Use In or Into

In wears a lot of hats, as does to, but into is strictly a preposition. That said, into is still versatile. Knowing how to use it correctly will help you make the best decisions for your writing. Here are some examples of into vs in:

Into Something

The first definition of into involves getting physically closer. The ideas of insertion, entry, inclusion and combination are some examples of its primary meaning.

  • The deposits funneled into an offshore account.
  • They admitted her into the group.
  • Pour the egg mixture into the double boiler, then stir until smooth and thick.

Into Form

You can also use into more conceptually. It expresses conditions:

  • We all had to get into better shape for the climb.
  • They didn’t want to get into any trouble.
  • She flew into a rage.

Into a Profession

Into also works when talking about actions, jobs or ownership. Using into can help differentiate from physical location in select cases, such as the first example below. 

  • After his oil-mining venture tanked, Chris had to go into another field.
  • We invested heavily into credit default swaps right before the housing crash.

Into a Hobby

You could also talk about interests using into

Into vs. In To: What’s the Difference?

It can be tough sometimes to remember the difference between into and in to. They look very similar written on paper. Plus, when you say them out loud, they sound almost indistinguishable. But even though you may skip right over them in casual conversation, these words have subtle differences that are very important to remember when you are writing.

What is the Difference Between Into and In to?

So, is into a preposition or an adverb? The sense of the sentence should be able to tell you, but it still can be tricky. Today, I want to go over into vs. in to and give you a few tips to remember the difference.

When to Use Into

Into is a preposition that means to the inside or interior of. Into indicates movement or some type of action that is taking place.

  • After a long night, she crawled into her bed to go to sleep.
  • He threw the note into the fire.
See also:  Despite or in spite of

It also often answers the questions “where?” For example,

  • Where is your mother?
  • She went into the Macy’s store.
  • Where is the store moving?
  • It’s moving into the new outlet mall.

When to Use In to

Use in to, two words, when in is part of a verb phrase. In instances when in is part of the verb, it is acting as an adverb and to is either a preposition, which takes an object, or part of an infinitive, such as to run. For example,

  • The firefighter ran back in to save the girl. (To is part of the infinitive here.)
  • You are either in to win or you’re not. (To is part of the infinitive here.)
  • The skateboarder dropped in to the ramp. (To is preposition here.)
  • He gave in to the pressure. (To is preposition here.)

To as Part of the Infinitive

When to is functioning as a part of an infinitive, it carries the meaning of “in order to.” Take our first example above,

  • The firefighter ran back in to save the girl.

This sentence means,

  • The firefighter ran back in in order to save the girl.

Here to belongs with save and no longer means “where?” but means “in order to.”

To as a Preposition

The third example sentence above illustrates another important difference between these two meanings of in to vs. into. For instance, what is the difference between the two following examples?

  • The skateboarder dropped into the ramp.
  • The skateboarder dropped in to the ramp.

In the first sentence, the skateboarder dropped and fell into the ramp, as if he went limp and collapsed into the ramp.

In the second sentence, the skateboarder “dropped in” to the ramp. To “drop in” is to start from the high point, or lip, of a skateboarding ramp and skate down the ramp.

So there is a huge difference between these two meanings. In the first, someone is getting injured. The second is just everyday skateboarding.

Remember the Difference

A good trick to keep track of these uses is to say your sentences aloud.

Say them aloud and pause between in and to. If, as a result of this pause, the sentence sounds incorrect, you probably need into.

This isn’t a 100 percent accurate test, but it will get you by most of the time.

Summary

  • These two uses can have vastly different meanings, so we need to be careful when using into and in to.
  • Into is a preposition and related to direction and movement, answering the questions, “Where?”
  • In to: when paired with each other, in acts as a part of a verbal phrase and to acts as a preposition or a part of an infinitive.

into vs in to – EnglishWithLatini.com

from Grammar GirlWhen you use in, you’re indicating position.Her iPod was in her pocket.When you use into in a sentence, you’re indicating movement; an action is happening.She stuffed her iPod into her backpack.Into is a preposition that has many definitions, but they all generally relate to direction and motion.On the other hand, in by itself can be an adverb, preposition, adjective, or noun. To by itself is a preposition or an adverb or part of an infinitive, such as to fly. Sometimes in and to just end up next to each other. Some examples will help!Motion or DirectionHe walked into the room.(Which direction was he going? Into the room. In the above sentence into is a preposition.)Squiggly walked into the lamppost by accident.(Into is a preposition showing motion and direction.)“Step into the shower.”(Into indicates movement and it is a preposition.)In or To Are Part of the VerbWe broke in to the room.(Broke in is a phrasal verb. The word in belongs with broke. The word to is a preposition to tell the reader where the action of the verb happened. Where did you break in to? The room.)Squiggly walked in to hear Aardvark talking about the surprise party.(Because to is part of the verb hear [to hear, an infinitive], keep it separate from in.)- See more at: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/in-to-or-into?page=all#sthash.CbGjkxbk.dpuf

Into vs. In To – Grammar and Punctuation

Note: This post has been replaced by the more complete Into vs. In to (Expanded). However, the extensive question-and-answer section below this post may answer any questions you have regarding these constructions.

How does one know when to use into or in to?

See also:  7 mistakes you make in your email messages

One of the main uses of the preposition into is to indicate movement toward the inside of a place.

Examples
The children jumped into the lake for a swim.
Mom drove the car into the garage.

In to is the adverb in followed by the preposition to.

Examples:
He turned his paper in to the teacher.
The administrators wouldn’t give in to the demands of the protesters.

We will explore into vs. in to in more depth in a future blog.

Pop Quiz

  1. As a child, I was too afraid to go into/in to the Halloween haunted house.
  2. I’m going to turn the wallet I found into/in to the police.
  3. If your battery is running low, you’ll need to plug your power cord into/in to the socket.

Pop Quiz Answers

Posted on Saturday, July 18, 2009, at 10:02 pm

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516 Comments on Into vs. In To

"In to" or "Into"?

I'm going to tackle this in parts.

  1. “Into” versus “in”
  2. “Into” versus “in to”
  3. Sample sentences

“Into” Versus “In”

  • When you use in, you're indicating position.
  • Her phone was in her pocket.
  • When you use into in a sentence, you're indicating movement; an action is happening.
  • She stuffed her phone into her backpack.

“Into” Versus “In to”

Into is a preposition that has many definitions, but they all generally relate to direction and motion.

On the other hand, in by itself can be an adverb, preposition, adjective, or noun. To by itself is a preposition or an adverb or part of an infinitive, such as to fly. Sometimes in and to just end up next to each other. Some examples will help!

Sample Sentences

Motion or Direction

He walked into the room. (Which direction was he going? Into the room. In the above sentence into is a preposition.)

Squiggly walked into the lamppost by accident. (Into is a preposition showing motion and direction.)

“Step into the shower.” (Into indicates movement and it is a preposition.)

In or To Are Part of the Verb

We broke in to the room. (Broke in is a phrasal verb. The word in belongs with broke. The word to is a preposition to tell the reader where the action of the verb happened. Where did you break in to? The room.)

Squiggly walked in to hear Aardvark talking about the surprise party. (Because to is part of the verb hear [to hear, an infinitive], keep it separate from in.)

Infographic images courtesy of Shutterstock. 

“into” vs “in to” and “onto” vs. “on to”

Something has happened to the spellings of “into, onto” and “in to, on to”: they seem suddenly to feature in newspapers spelled wrong more often than right. It is a quite new phenomenon. These examples might serve to show what I mean, although they are made up by me, typical nevertheless:

He went onto become president. He got in to bed. He climbed on to a chair. The firemen went into rescue a cat from the burning building. 

Now, how do we go about explaining to folk when these should be two words, and when one word? To my mind it is simple enough: the “to” which is separate is part of the infinitive form of the following verb: to become, to rescue.

When the following word is a noun the preceding preposition is ‘into’, ‘onto’. There are other situations, too: “….he carried onto Rome” instead of “Instead of going back home he carried on to Rome” where ‘on’ goes with carried, and ‘to’ goes with Rome.

Any rules to help those who are suddenly getting it wrong everywhere? Politicians not excepted. 

You don’t see these errors in books, which have been proof-read by literate editors. Why then are they suddenly everywhere in newspapers, and even signs in public places? At Gatwick there is a huge, expensive sign telling people where (or is it when?) they should check-in (sic).  Check-in is the name of the place where you check in, surely? (noun/verb).

Any thoughts, anyone? I shall supply, tomorrow, examples gleaned from the UK Sunday Telegraph, one of the more prestigious newspapers in this country.

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