Into vs. In To (Grammar Rules)

In this Grammar Rules post, learn when to use "into" vs. "in to," including examples of each. One is a preposition, while the other is an adverb-preposition combo that aren't exactly into (or related to) each other.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Q: Can you explain when to use “into” versus when you should use “in to”? —Char

Using “into” and “in to” interchangeably is a very common grammar faux pas—heck, my sister commits this grandiose error in e-mails at least twice a day and, despite my attempts to sic the grammar police on her, she continues to write recklessly. But if you understand their individual definitions, it’s easy to pick the right word to convey your true meaning and avoid the grammar police altogether.

(Grammar Rules for Writers.)

The word “into” is a preposition that expresses movement of something toward or into something else. I made it into work a few minutes early today. The tooth fairy tucked the tooth into her pocket before placing a $1 bill under my daughter’s pillow.

“In to,” on the other hand, is the adverb “in” followed by the preposition “to.” They aren’t really related and only happen to fall next to each other based on sentence construction. My boss sat in to audit the meeting. The tooth fairy came in to collect my daughter’s tooth.

Into vs. In To (Grammar Rules)

One trick to help you decipher which word (or word pairing) is correct is to think of it this way: “Into” usually answers the question “where?” while “in to” is generally short for “in order to.” So look at your sentence and replace “into” or “in to” with “where?” If the second half of your sentence answers it, use “into.” If it doesn’t, replace “where” with “in order to.” If that works, use “in to.” Here is this method put into practice:

The tooth fairy put my daughter’s tooth where? Ah—into her pocket.

The tooth fairy came in where? To collect my daughter’s tooth? Hmm … that doesn’t work. The tooth fairy came in order to collect my daughter’s tooth.

Grammar police, rest easy—we’ve got this one under control.

*****

Grammar and Mechanics

No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.

Click to continue.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 576

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a back to blank poem.

Where Are the Toxic Families in Children's Books?

Where Are the Toxic Families in Children's Books?

Christina Wyman discusses how for children who suffer difficult family dynamics, seeing their experiences reflected in books is few and far between.

the island

The Island

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, build yourself an island.

Nawaaz Ahmed: On Personal Identity in Literary Fiction

Nawaaz Ahmed: On Personal Identity in Literary Fiction

Nawaaz Ahmed discusses how his personal experiences acted as the impetus for his new book, Radiant Fugitives, and how it went from novella to novel.

Comedy vs. Comity (Grammar Rules)

Comedy vs. Comity (Grammar Rules)

There's nothing funny about learning when to use comedy and comity (OK, maybe a little humor) with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Shugri Said Salh: On Writing the Coming-Of-Age Story

Shugri Said Salh: On Writing the Coming-Of-Age Story

Debut author Shugri Said Salh discusses how wanting to know her mother lead her to writing her coming-of-age novel, The Last Nomad.

100 Ways to Buff Your Book

100 Ways to Buff Your Book

Does your manuscript need a little more definition, but you’re not sure where to begin? Try these 100 tips to give your words more power.

Kaia Alderson: On Internal Roadblocks and Not Giving Up

Kaia Alderson: On Internal Roadblocks and Not Giving Up

Kaia Alderson discusses how she never gave up on her story, how she worked through internal doubts, and how research lead her out of romance and into historical fiction.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Seven New Courses, Writing Prompts, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce seven new courses, our Editorial Calendar, and more!