Into and in to are separated by just a space, but the two actually cannot be used interchangeably. Whereas the former is a single word that is often used as a a preposition, the latter is composed of 2 separate words that sometimes happen to fall next to each other in a sentence.
Make your writing more clear and effective by learning when to use into and in to properly.
When to Use “Into”
“Into” is a single word that is most often used to indicate insertion or inclusion. However, it can also be used to indicate a transformation (think “turned into” or “changed into“).
As a Preposition
As a preposition, into can be used to indicate position or direction, as in when something is placed within or inside something else.
Into should be used any time that you’re describing something that ends up inside something else (like a box, container, or even a timeframe). See the example sentences below of common phrases that are paired with into:
- She placed the dog into its carrier and grabbed her suitcase.
- He carefully slid the documents into an envelope.
- They walked into the house, only to find everything in disarray.
- Sarah organized her notes into neat folders.
- I’ll find a way to squeeze our meeting into my schedule.
- Don’t look directly into the sun.
- I ran into an old friend at the supermarket today.
Into can also be used when describing transformations, frequently appearing alongside “turn” or “change.”
- The caterpillar turned into a butterfly.
- She went upstairs to change into her evening gown.
- The company turns recycled plastics into cool, fashionable footwear.
- I changed into my gym clothes and grabbed by tennis racquet.
To Express an Interest
Into can describe an interest in something. For example, “He’s really into punk rock” describes someone who has a passion for punk rock music.
- I’m not really into sports.
- The students weren’t that into the lesson.
- My dad got me into classic rock music.
- He’s into politics, so he applied for an internship in Washington, D.C.
To Indicate Division
Into can indicate division, like when something splits into multiple pieces, or when something is divided into categories.
- When the glass hit the floor, it shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces.
- The applicants were divided into different groups.
- The chair broke into two pieces.
- The film was too long, so it was divided into two parts.
When to Use “In To”
Sometimes, the two separate words “in” and “to” happen to logically fall next to each other in a sentence, but they aren’t intended to convey transformation or placement inside of something.
Two common mistakes that many people make are writing “log into” or “tune into,” when really they should use “in to” instead.
While those are two very specific examples, “in to” should also be used when “to” conveys a purpose, as in “I just dropped in to say hello.” “To” goes with “say hello,” and since “say hello” isn’t a container that you can drop into, using 2 separate words is the only option available.
You can find more examples of when to use “in to” below.
- I tune in to the classic rock station every morning.
- You can log in to our website to view your results.
- I just came in to grab my bag, I forgot it here earlier.
- He walked in to find an enormous mess in the kitchen.
- Yesterday she stopped in to order a cup of coffee.
Into vs. In To
Many writers make the mistake of using into when really in to is needed, and vice versa. You can avoid that common error by learning the proper uses for each, as well as by studying other commonly confused word pairs, like everyday vs. every day and apart vs. a part.
Which word pairs confuse you the most? Let us know in the comments below!