Friday, May 31, 2013

"In to" or "Into?" ... "On to" or "Onto?"

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

"Into" and "in to" ... "onto" and "on to." These words are tricky and are often used incorrectly. Firstly, you need to know that “into” and “onto” are prepositions that signal movement from one place to another.

Secondly, you need to know about phrasal verbs, also called two-word verbs. They’re pretty much verbs that are made up of more than one word, sometimes even more than two words. Here are some examples:

To check someone/something out
To break in
To fall apart
To look something over

Phrasal verbs must be kept together. So, with “into” vs. “in to” and “onto” vs. “on to,” which you use comes down to whether or not you’re using a phrasal verb.

Non phrasal verb examples:

The dog jumped onto the bed.
Sam threw his shirt into the hamper.

Also note that in both the above examples, you could simply use “on” or “in” and get the same meaning.

The dog jumped on the bed.
Sam threw his shirt in the hamper.

Phrasal verb examples:

There are lots of phrasal verbs. Click here for a link if you want to check them out. But not all phrasal verbs use "into, "in to," "onto," or "on to." Here are some that do. Take careful notice of which have the word "into" or "in."

“To get back into” means to become interested in something again. Ex: It took me a while to get back into that movie.

“To be into” means to like something. Ex: I’m into watching Doctor Who. Ex: He's into her.

“To break in” means to force your way into something. Ex: I broke in to that bag of chips without asking. Ex: Two masked men broke in to the bank vault.

“To grow into” means to grow enough to fit into something. Ex: It will be a few years before Emily grows into that shirt.

“To look into” means to investigate something. Ex: “I will look into this matter immediately,” Sherlock said.

“To run into” means to meet up unexpectedly with someone or something. Ex: I ran into Michelle at the store. Ex: I ran into the wall.

And here are, perhaps, the trickiest two in the world:

“To turn in” means to turn in an assignment. Ex: Turn your science project in to your professor.

“To turn into” means to transform something into something else. Ex: Turn Malfoy into a ferret.

If you were to use "into/in to" wrong here, you might have: Turn your science project into your professor.

And that would be trouble, indeed.

So oftentimes when writing fiction, it's best to rephrase. Ex: Turn in your science project to your professor.

Any questions? I have a million! When in doubt? Google it.

(I'm speaking at a school today, so I won't be around to answer your questions. But I will answer them as soon as I can.)


  1. Wow!!!!!!!! All that time I was using 'into' and 'in to' in the wrong places!!!! XD
    Thank you soooo much! This helped so so so much!!!!!!! Wow wow wow- GREAT post!!!!

    A writer for Him. :-)

  2. I'll definitely have to keep this in mind as I'm working on my WIP!


  3. "Turn your science project into your professor"--oh me, oh my! Yes, let's not do this! For everyone who says grammar doesn't matter...there are examples like this ;)

    1. People say grammar doesn't matter?!?! The grammar nazi in me just fainted O_O

    2. I know right? I'm a Grammar Nazi too and it DOES matter, people!

    3. I love those types of examples. They're so fun.

  4. Finally someone who can explain this in a way that makes sense -- and with humour! :)

  5. Wonderful examples, and this post was a great help! very informative and fun! :-)



  6. Haha, you read my mind :) I have trouble with those quite a bit. Thanks!