Into vs. In To

What is the difference?

Into and in to are two commonly confused words in the English language. When do you use each one?

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Although we say these the same way, they have different meanings.

Into (one word)

We use "into" as a preposition.

"Into" usually answers the question, "Where?"

Although there are many definitions of "into," the most common definitions are:

1. toward the inside; in the direction of

2. hitting or touching

  • The fox crawls into a hole.
    (The fox crawls where? Into a hole.)

  • He looks into her eyes.
    (He looks where? Into her eyes.)

  • He drove his car into the tree.
    (He drove his car where? Into the tree.)

  • The bird flew into the window.
    (The bird flew where? Into the window.)

  • He put his vote into the box.
    (Where did he put his vote? Into the box.)

Put into

"Into" can also mean to transform or change.

  • The caterpillar changes into a beautiful butterfly.

  • The little girl turned into a princess.

  • He grew into a responsible adult.

  • James turned into a strong man.
A strong man

In to (two words)

This is actually two completely different words that sometimes fall next to each other in some sentences.

   1. in => adverb
   2. to => preposition

  • I went in to use the telephone.

  • The dog goes in to get a drink.

  • She reaches in to get the mail.

  • I called in to remind him I am arriving today.

  • She came in to tell her about the news.
Two women talking

Quiz yourself

Grab a pencil and paper and take this short quiz to check your understanding. Then, scroll down to see the answers.

   1. She threw the paper __________ [into/in to] the trash can.

   2. I ran __________ [into/in to] the store to buy some milk.

   3. They moved the wedding __________ [into/in to] avoid the storm.

   4. The repair man came __________ [into/in to] fix the television.

   5. The girl turned __________ [into/in to] a beautiful princess.

A quiz!


   1. She threw the paper into the trash can.

   2. I ran into the store to buy some milk.

   3. They moved the wedding in to avoid the storm.

   4. The repair man came in to fix the television.

   5. The girl turned into a beautiful princess.

These were the differences between into and in to. Now that you understand, it's time to practice! Get our ESL teaching books.

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