“Into/in to” and “Onto/on to”

Margie Wakeman Wells General, MWW Blog 5 Comments

These words cause us problems. Let’s see whether we can clear some of those up.

The words in and on suggest a location. We are “in” the room. It is “on” the table. When followed by the word to, the word to is part of a prepositional phrase or an infinitive.

…went in to cash my check…
…moved on to another town…
…went on to bigger and better things…

The one-word forms always imply movement. Something or someone was not there before and now is.

We were not in the room before; we walked “into” the room.
It was not there before; we put it “onto” the table.

…deposited it into the bank…
…turned onto the roadway…

…put the money into my purse…
…held onto the handle…

There is an idiom that we have to deal with — turn into. With one word into, this expression means “to become.” So when it does not have that meaning, it has to be two words.

…When he drinks, he turns into a monster.
…He turned in to the driveway.

…pulled into the driveway…
…moved into the driveway…
…turned in to the driveway…

One-word/two-words issues are discussed in Chapter 29 of my book.

Happy punctuating.


Comments 5

  1. Love those examples of “implying movement” and “to become” and “suggests a location.” Those phrases help to make the explanations short and sweet, which helps me to remember them when the time comes. Thank you, Margie!

  2. Margie, those are very clear, concise examples that I am quite sure are appreciated greatly by your audience here.


  3. Hi, Margie.
    I am still struggling a bit with into/in to when talking about “logging in” to a server or computer. In some sense, movement is implied, isn’t it? You really are going into that computer when you log in. How silly is this thought?

    I was never logged into that computer.
    I need to log in to that computer.

    I just asked my husband to make your book my birthday gift!

    1. Post

      I think this one can go either way. I would pick one and stick with it for “log” every time.

      What a marvelous birthday gift!!! 🙂

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