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Into vs. In To (Expanded)

When Jane authored the first Grammar Tip on this subject in 2009, her intention was to provide simple, concise guidance on the most commonly encountered uses of the words into and in to. But she knew that at some point we would need to explore this topic in more depth. Since issuing that Grammar Tip, we have responded to 247 questions from readers on a wide variety of situations regarding the use of into vs. in to!  So, there is no better time than now to go into more depth on this topic.

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

1. 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.

 

2. Into can indicate “in the direction of.”

Example

Do not look directly into the laser or you may damage your eyes.

 

3. Into can refer to a state or condition.

Example

He got into trouble.

The caterpillar changed into a butterfly.

 

4. Into can indicate occupation or involvement.

Examples

The couple went into farming.

Unfortunately, her brother got into drugs.

 

5. Into can imply introduction, insertion, or inclusion.

Examples

The nations entered into an alliance.

Marguerite was hired into the firm.

Jojo incorporated my comments into the final document.

 

6. Into can indicate a point within time or space.

Example

We are now well into the year.

The spacecraft went into orbit around the moon.

 

7. Into is used as a divisor in math.

Example

The number 4 goes into 8 two times.

 

As you can see, there are many different situations where it is correct to use the word into. However, sometimes the words in (adverb) and to (preposition) just happen to find themselves neighbors, and they must remain separate words.

Examples

Rachel dived back in to rescue the struggling boy. [Here, in is part of the verb “dived in,” and to belongs with “rescue” (forming the infinitive) and means “in order to,” not “where.”]

The administrators wouldn’t give in to the demands of the protestors.

He turned his essay in to the teacher.

Using the word into in the last example would be a big mistake. It would mean he performed some kind of amazing magic trick that made his essay become the teacher!

 

I know this has been one of our longest Grammar Tips ever. However, 247 comments over the last two plus years indicated that we needed to cover this subject more thoroughly. I hope this lesson helped. Try your hand at the Pop Quiz, which includes some of the questions readers have submitted.

 

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.

4. I will look into/in to the options you have suggested.

5. She came into/in to warm her hands and feet.

6. Her brother Billy is really into/in to sports.

7. Excuse me, I’m going to tune into/in to watch the nightly news.

8. The agreement goes into/in to effect on October 1.

 

Answers:

1. As a child, I was too afraid to go into the Halloween haunted house.

2. I’m going to turn the wallet I found in to the police.

3. If your battery is running low, you’ll need to plug your power cord into the socket.

4. I will look into the options you have suggested.

5. She came in to warm her hands and feet.

6. Her brother Billy is really into sports.

7. Excuse me, I’m going to tune in to watch the nightly news.

8. The agreement goes into effect on October 1.

Posted on Sunday, July 29, 2012, at 1:08 pm


27 Comments on Into vs. In To (Expanded)

27 responses to “Into vs. In To (Expanded)”

  1. John says:

    If the “into/in to” precedes a verb, the correct form will generally be “in to”.

  2. Handoko says:

    I read your explanation “Into vs. In To”, thank you that’s really helpful to me. But can you please enlighten me “in vs into”? English is not my native language, I’m a Indonesian.

    When I was writing an article for my blog, I’m not sure when should I use “in” or “into”. The article was about the features of a computer program.

    Here are four sentences I’d like help with:
    1. In this software release, many new features were added.
    2. Some very useful features were added in this software release.
    3. Some very useful features were added into this software release.
    4. Some preservatives may be added into this food.

    Which one is correct and why?

    • Regarding your four sentences:

      1. In this software release, many new features were added. Correct, or “Many new features were added to this software release.”

      For the remaining sentences, “added to” would be preferred over “added in” or “added into”
      2. Some very useful features were added to this software release.
      3. Some very useful features were added to this software release.
      4. Some preservatives may be added to this food.

      The reason is simply that they are idiomatic expressions.

  3. Christopher B. says:

    I get vexed when I hear announcements such as; “we’ll be arriving INTO York in …….”. Is it grammatical, as either “arriving ” or “at” seems far more acceptable and natural? Sadly it seems to be increasingly prevalent on our transport networks. But you must have received this question many times before.

    • Interestingly, we have not often received this question. To us, arriving into a city or an airport has an awkward, almost dangerous, sound to it. We would advise “we’ll be arriving in York in twenty minutes …” or “we’ll be arriving at the York airport in twenty minutes …” as better choices.

  4. Debbie N. says:

    I just read this headline … “He turned himself into police” … ha! So I guess he’s now a policeman! Maybe they should say “he turned himself in to police.”
    UGH…God help America!

    • Yes, “…released after turning himself in to police” would have been much better. Careful readers like you might wonder, “Gosh, why would they release him? Why wouldn’t the police want to recruit a person who is capable of such an amazing trick?”

  5. lev says:

    I liked this explanation. I have the following clear:

    a) “in to” can sometimes mean in, “in order to”. “To” could be replaced with “so [subject] can/could”

    b) some phrasal verbs go with into, and will always be with into: “turn into” (transform) “be into/get into” (be/become interested), “look into” (investigate), etc.

    c) “into” often answers “where”.

    d) “in to” often answers “to whom”, “to what”.

    I still have a couple of questions:

    1) On the last blog post, some people made the point that “log in to the system” and “log into the system” both seem OK. What would you say?

    2) The other one I have trouble with is “get in” and “get into”. I suppose “get in to the car” and “get into the car” are both grammatical, aren’t they? I have a hard problem explaining to foreigners that “get in the car” is correct but then I prefer “into the car” to “in to the car”!

  6. Doug says:

    Sometimes the English language is pointlessly ridiculous. I never correct the use of “into” or “in to” as long as the proper meaning is conveyed.

  7. christie says:

    Is is “check into our hotel” or “check in to our hotel”? I’m curious which is correct and why.

  8. Wallie Billingsley says:

    I understand the difference between “into” and “in to” but what do you do in opposite direction, “Out of”? The word “outof” does not exist. So in case where into is correct and only the direction is changed how can “out of” be correct?

  9. Simon Ellberger says:

    Let me reword Wallie Billingsley’s question slightly. It is correct to write “We walked out of the room.” In this case, “out” is an adverb of direction, and “of” is a preposition with “the room” as its object. So although “We walked into the room” is proper, why isn’t “We walked in to the room” also proper, since it is simply movement in the opposite direction from “out of the room”? In this case, “in” would be an adverb of direction, and “to” would be a preposition with “the room” as its object. Another way of looking at this is: it is correct to write “We walked in,” with “in” acting as an adverb, so why isn’t it also correct to provide more information by adding a prepositional phrase and writing “We walked in to the room”? Similarly, we can write “Come in,” so why not “Come in to the room,” (with “Come into the room” also being correct)?

  10. Simon Ellberger says:

    Which is correct (and why)?

    “She headed into the apartment”
    “She headed in to the apartment.”

    I’ve seen both forms used recently in edited material. My own gut feeling is that either can be correct, but I am probably wrong.

  11. Simon Ellberger says:

    Which is correct and why:
    He was too tied into the dogma of the religion.
    He was too tied in to the dogma of the religion.
    Same question for:
    He was too tied into using the standard methods instead of being creative.
    Also, what if in the second pair of sentences, “using” is removed? I.e., which would be correct:
    He was too tied into the standard methods instead of being creative.
    He was too tied in to the standard methods instead of being creative.

    He was too tied in to using the standard methods instead of being creative.

  12. Robin says:

    I am a Help Desk Technician.

    I often email people and tell them that I need to take remote control of their computers.

    Would I say…

    I need to remote in to your computer?
    or
    I need to remote into your computer?

    It’s in to, correct?

    • Grammatically speaking, the word remote is not a standard verb. If it is something you say in your profession, we lean toward “remote in to your computer.” But if it were up to us, we would write “I need to take control of your computer remotely.”

  13. Addie says:

    Hi! I would like to thank you in advance for your help, even if I don’t get a response- this blog is amazing, especially for learning English as a second language, which is what I do. My question is: ” Going into the movie, I expected to be blown away-I wasn’t, but I still liked it.” is correct? I saw the expression “going into/in to” being used mostly when talking about books, and I forgot which of the two is correct. I incline towards “going into”, but I want to be sure. Thanks again! ^^

  14. Addie says:

    Thanks for the reply and confirmation, but when it comes to “going into”, that wasn’t what I meant. Let me give you another example: “Going into the book, I expected to hate it since it’s about a love triangle, but it was actually pretty decent.” They use “going into the book” as “as I started reading” or when expressing their expectations towards something they’re about to watch/read/experience/etc. I hope I make sense.

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