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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/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.

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


2 Comments

2 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”.

    • Jane says:

      That might be true, although in to and into generally precede nouns. There is no hard-and-fast rule about which one to use; context is the criterion.

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