Into or In To


Every so often, you may run into an in to that isn’t joined together because of how it’s used. While it’s tempting to just use into for everything, there is a way to distinguish between the two fairly easily.

Let’s look at the common uses of each form.

Into as a preposition typically tells where.

  • Where did they go? They went into the house.

There are two other uses for the word as well, such as addressing issues of time or being deeply involved in something.

  • The storm lasted into the night.
  • He’s just completely into her.

The confusion stems from the fact that some verbs depend on the word in. For example:

  • dive in
  • deal in
  • give in

Those verbal forms often get crammed together with to. If that happens, to will almost always tell why something happened. If in and to aren’t supposed to be joined and just happen to be next to each other, you can usually replace the to (mentally) with in order to. (Just keep that phrase in your head and not on paper—please.)

  • Sam slept in to make up for a late night. [Sam slept in in order to make up for a late night.]
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3 thoughts on “Into or In To

    • Those can be confusing as well, but the demarcation is not quite as clear. Here are some general guidelines.

      Onto is a preposition implying that a noun (person or thing) is moving from one location to another. Often this implies an upward or outward movement, which is a useful thought that I’ll explain in a bit. Example: He leapt onto the bed.

      With on to, the on helps the verb and usually means “continued in a similar fashion” or “relaying.” For example: We drove on to the mall. In that case, you could replace the to with “until we reached.”

      Or you might see this: Pass this number on to your friends. In this case, you could move the on after the verb (Pass on this number to your friends). And moving the on is one method you can try.

      One other method for figuring this is out is to use the “up” rule. If you can add the word up before the phrase, then you should use onto. If you add up before an on to the results can be humorous or completely change the meaning.

      This one works: He jumped [up] onto the rocking horse.

      But not this one: She drove [up] on to the skating rink. (She really continued driving to the skating rink; she didn’t drive her car onto the ice.)

      As I said, it can be tricky. So, knowing the meanings and testing these rules will help.

      For even more, see this.

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