Word Confusion: In vs In To vs Into

Posted July 23, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Y’all are so not alone in being confused by the confusion between in to and into. I use this explanation often, and I still end up working through it, analyzing it, whimpering…*grin*… So if anyone has additional suggestions to make it easier to assess which is the more appropriate, I and everyone else would be thrilled!

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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In In To Into
Credit to: Diffen, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation; Dictionary; Bruckmyer, 65;

Image courtesy of Cristina Roglez

Image courtesy of eHow

Image by Staff Sgt D. Myles Cullen, U.S. Air Force, is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Navy Midshipman Stan Jett is tossed into the air by his fellow midshipmen during pre-game activities at the 107th Army–Navy game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Dec. 2, 2006.

Part of Grammar:
Abbreviation; Adjective
Combined Form;
Adverb 1;
Noun 2; Prefix 3, 4; Preposition 5; Suffix 6
Adverb + preposition to Preposition
[Symbol] Chemical element for indium

[Predic.; of a person] Present at one’s home or office

[Informal] Fashionable

[Predic.; of the ball in tennis and similar games] Landing within the designated playing area

Expressing movement with the result that someone or something becomes enclosed or surrounded by something else

Expressing the situation of being enclosed or surrounded by something

Expressing arrival at a destination

[Of the tide] Rising or at its highest level

[Baseball; of an infielder or outfielder] Playing closer to home plate than usual

  • [Of a pitch] Very close to the batter

Combined Form:
Denoting a gathering of people having a common purpose, typically as a form of protest

A position of influence

[Chemistry] Chemical element of atomic number 49, a soft silvery-white metal occurring naturally in association with zinc and some other metals (see Abbreviation: In) 2

[Added to adjectives] Not 3

[Added to nouns] Without

  • Lacking

In 4

  • Into
  • Toward
  • Within

Expressing the situation of something that is or appears to be enclosed or surrounded by something else

  • Expressing motion with the result that something ends up within or surrounded by something else

Expressing a period of time during which an event takes place or a situation remains the case

Expressing the length of time before a future event is expected to take place

[Often followed by a noun without a determiner] Expressing a state or condition

  • Indicating the quality or aspect with respect to which a judgment is made

Expressing inclusion or involvement

Indicating someone’s occupation or profession

Indicating the language or medium used

  • Indicating the key in which a piece of music is written

[With verbal noun] as an integral part of an activity

[Chemistry] Forming names of organic compounds, pharmaceutical products, proteins, etc. 6

A shortcut for the phrase, in order to

The to frequently is part of an infinitive

Combines direction and purpose

A function word to indicate entry, introduction, insertion, superposition, or inclusion

Expressing the result of an action

Expressing a change of state, condition, or form of

To the occupation, movement, action, transformation, or possession of

Deeply interested or involved

  • [Informal; of a person] Taking a lively and active interest in (something)

A function word to indicate a period of time or an extent of space, part of which is passed or occupied

Indicating the direction toward which someone or something is turned when confronting something else

In the direction of

  • Indicating a route by which someone or something may arrive at a particular destination

Expressing movement or action with the result that someone or something makes physical contact with something else

[Math] Used as a function word to indicate the dividend in division

Expressing movement or action with the result that someone or something becomes enclosed or surrounded by something else



No one is in.

Green is in this year.

We knocked at the door but there was no one in.

Pastels and light colors are in this year.

It’s the in thing to do.

It’s in.

His mom walked in.

The tide’s in.

Come on in.

Bring it in here.

Presently the admiral breezed in.

We were locked in.

The train got in very late.

The tide is in at 5pm.

Looking for a force, they brought the infield in.

He threw a fastball in and up a little.

Combined Form:
The kids are having a sit-in.

Is this a sleep-in?

Wow, babe, it’s a love-in…

He would ensure an in with the nominee.

Indium is used in making mirrors that are as reflective as silver mirrors but do not tarnish as quickly.








She was hiding in the closet.

He was covered in mud.

He put a candy in his mouth.

They met in 1921.

I’ll see you in half an hour.

My grandparents are living in Deep River.

They were dressed in their Sunday best.

Soak it in warm soapy water first.

She saw it in the rearview mirror.

Don’t you dare put dye in the bathtub!

He got in his car and drove off.

My great-grandparents first met in 1885.

It’s frickin’ one o’clock in the morning!

I hadn’t seen him in years.

I’ll see you in fifteen minutes, I swear.

Ahh, to be in love.

I’ve got to put my affairs in order.

She was a fine-looking woman in her thirties.

It was laid out in a straight line.

There was no discernible difference in quality.

It must be true; I read it in a book.

She thinks she’s acting in this film.

She works in publishing.

I love when you say it in Polish.

Put it in writing, and I’ll consider it.

Mozart’s Piano Concerto is written in E flat.

In planning public expenditure, it is better to be prudent.




I am going in to have a few drinks.

He turned his paper in to the teacher.

Now, see, if he had turned his paper into the teacher, that would be a magic trick.

Run in to the room.

The administrators wouldn’t give in to the protesters.

Come in to my room and see my new computer.

Rachel dived back in to rescue the struggling boy.

It was pathetic how easily her dad gave in to her demands.

I am going into the bar to have a few drinks.

Run into the room.

She turned everything she touched into gold.

If you would just look into a book…

I will enter into this race with enthusiasm.

Look into this issue.

Mom, you have to plug your power cord into the socket.

Having this much firepower will turn into one hell of a fight.

It was far into the night before that jerk returned.

Don’t look into the sun!

Yeah, I was thinking of going into engineering.

Come on into the house.

I hear George got into a little trouble.

Cover the bowl and put it into the fridge.

Sara got into her car and shut the door.

He walked into a trap sprung by the opposition.

The narrow road that led down into the village.

How can you not love sailing, with the wind blowing into your face.

She was sobbing into her skirt.

Without a clearer insight into what is involved, I simply cannot help you.

It was a peaceful protest which turned into a violent confrontation.

Raspberries and apples are a tasty combination when made into jam.

They forced the club into a humiliating and expensive special general meeting.

Three into twelve equals four.

He’s into gaming.

History of the Word:
1 Old English inn or inne is of Germanic origin and related to the German ein, from an Indo-European root shared by the Latin in and the Greek en.

2 Mid-19th century from indigo (because there are two characteristic indigo lines in its spectrum) + -ium.

3 From Latin

4 Representing in or the Latin preposition in

5 Middle English (before the 12th century) from Old English and similar to High German in, the Latin in and the Greek en

6 Alteration of -ine.

Old English intō.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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