Grammar 9 min read

What's the Difference Between Into vs. in to?

Main Into vs. in to Takeaways:

  • Both into and in to are correct, but they are not interchangeable. They mean different things.
  • Into is one word and is a preposition. It helps illustrate physical movement (The river leads into the ocean), or a metaphorical transformation (With one kiss, she turned the frog into a prince).
  • Into goes directly in front of a destination space in a sentence.
  • Conversely, in and to are two distinct words. Even though they aren’t related, they sometimes end up next to each other in a sentence.

Like anytime vs. any time and to vs. too, into vs. in to is a huge source of confusion in English grammar. They look almost identical, but these two are not the same. Let’s look at the difference between them and show you when to use into or in to in a sentence.

Finn set his plan into motion.
Marjory put her old curtains into a box.
Ian went in to speak to the manager.
A young man who's confused on which term to use, into or in to. Into vs. In to
Into is a preposition, describing that an object has been moved within another. In to, on the other hand, is a two-word phrase. The adverb in and preposition to are not related.

What is the Difference Between Into and In To?

The difference between into and in to comes down to the parts of speech. On one hand, use the preposition into to show that one thing physically moved inside another, or one thing figuratively transformed into another. On the other hand, in to is a two word phrase usually comprised of the adverb in followed by the preposition to. This won’t work in every situation, but use this quick trick to check yourself: if you can replace the word with “in order to,” you should probably opt for in to vs. into.

💡 Use this easy trick to make sure you choose the right one:

  1. Try replacing it with “in order to.”
  2. Does the sentence still make sense?
  3. If so, then in to (two words) is probably correct. If not, then into (one word) is probably correct.

Here is an example that illustrates why into and into are not interchangeable. Moreover, this example also shows how the above trick is a good guide but doesn’t work 100% of the time. So, be sure to think critically about the sentence’s meaning.

The student turned his paper into the teacher.
The student turned his paper in to the teacher.

The meaning of the last two examples changes dramatically depending on whether you choose into or in to.

For example, the incorrect sentence means that the student transformed his paper into his teacher!

Since we really mean to say that the student submitted his work to his teacher for grading, the correct sentence uses the phrase in to (the adverbial phrase turn in + the prepositional phrase to the teacher).

Is It Into or In To?

Into and in to are both correct, but they mean very different things. The difference between these two comes down to the parts of speech. For example, into is a preposition. It lets us know that something is moving from one direction to another (He walked into the room). Conversely, in to is a phrase made up of the adverb in and the preposition to. These two words aren’t related. Instead, they just happen to sit next to each other in the sentence (He walked in to listen to the lecture).

Unfortunately, Geoff fell into the mud.
Mary dove in to help the struggling child swim.

On on hand, the preposition into indicates literal or metaphorical action:

  • An object moves into a space.
  • A person moves from adolescence into adulthood.
  • A season moves from winter into spring.

On the other hand, the word in can be a preposition, an adverb, an adjective or a noun depending on the circumstances:

  • Preposition: An object sits in a room.
  • Adverb: A person is in crisis.
  • Noun: Summer is in full bloom.

The word to can be a preposition, but it can also be an adverb — or part of an infinitive. “To” sometimes winds up next to “in” in a sentence.

(To as a preposition) They plan on walking to the store.
Two image panels. First panel shows a man jumping into the pool. Second panel shows a student turning his paper in to his teacher.
Into and in to are both correct, but they mean very different things. Into is a preposition while in to is a phrase made up of the adverb in and the preposition to.

Here, to is part of the prepositional phrase to the store.

(To as an adverb) She was unconscious for a few hours, but she just came to.

In this example, to is part of the adverbial phrase “come to,” meaning to regain consciousness or to wake up.

(To as part of an infinitive) Please try not to speak so loudly in the library.

In English, “to” always goes before an infinitive verb. This is part of the way we show that a verb is in its infinitive form and not conjugated.

When Should You Use Into or In To?

Many confuse the single word into with the two-word phrase in to.” Use the preposition into to indicate movement, whether literal or figurative. This word shows readers that something is inside something else, or where an object is in relation to another (She poured the tea into her mug). Next, in and to are two separate words that sometimes end up next to each other in a sentence. Therefore, you usually use in to when an adverbial phrase ends with in and a prepositional phrase or infinitive begins with to (She walked in to get some tea).

Here are examples of when to use Into vs. In To in a sentence:

I’m going in to get a few things before we leave.
Ben wandered in to see if James was awake.
Workers were brought in to help speed up production.
Felix swam into the middle of the lake.
When making pasta, it’s important to put water into the pot first.
“I’d like to make an extension request, your honor!” exclaimed the lawyer as he burst into the courtroom.
Pete made his pot roast leftovers into a pie.
The burglar waited for her chance to break into the vault.
Someone had driven into his car.
“I won’t go into town today,” sniffed Hank, dabbing at his nose.
Thinking it would probably rain, Mary went into the house to get her umbrella.
“Steve came in to get some chicken feed earlier,” said John.
Please put these bags into the attic.

How Do We Use Into in a Sentence?

In a sentence, place into right in front of the destination space: into the car; into the house; into the lake. Use the word into to indicate movement from one location to another. Into is a preposition, and prepositions always indicate where things are in relation to other things.

Here are examples of when to use into in a sentence:

The goose flew into the marshland.
“Get into the car,” said the secret agent.
“I’m going to turn you into a frog!” yelled the angry witch.
The rocket flew up into space.
The plate broke into many pieces.
He put the kitten gently into its carrier.
The gannet dove into the water from a great height.
Ellie had a nightmare, so she crawled into her mother’s bed.
She walked from the kitchen into the living room.
He wondered if Rachel had posted the letter into the right box.
The wind felt cold outside, so Maya went into the house to warm up.

Are you Into or In To?

Both “are you into” and “are you in to” are correct, but have different meanings. Therefore, the correct phrase depends on what you want to say. For example, if you want to ask if someone is interested in a topic or enjoys doing a certain activity, you would use the one-word preposition into (Are you into playing sports?). However, if you want to ask the reason for someone’s visit, you would probably use the two-word phrase in to (Are you in to see the doctor?).

Are you into spicy food?
Are you in to pick up your mail, or just stopping by to say hello?

Is it Look Into or In To?

The correct idiom is “look into.” This means to try to discover, or uncover, the facts about a situation, like a problem or a crime. The word “into” in the phrase “look into” is a preposition, which denotes a movement toward something or a certain location. If you’re investigating something, you need to “move toward/closer” to the evidence or object of your interest to find the truth.

If you look into it, you’ll see that the pole is not properly attached to the base.

In the above example, the speaker is claiming that the pole is not properly attached to its base. But, his/her statement also suggests that you can prove it yourself if you look into it (look closer to the pole).

She looked into hiring two new writers, but that would have been too expensive.
Our parents are looking into buying a new dog.
Image shows that Jake is too afraid to go into the haunted house. His friends are laughing while he's running away.
The preposition into indicates movement, whether literal or figurative

Recap: Into vs. In To

First, never use “in to” and “into” interchangeably. This is a mistake.

In fact, into is actually one word. And, it’s a preposition. As a result, it defines what an object is inside, or within. To use into correctly in a sentence, put it right in front of the destination space.

However, in and to are two completely different words, even though they sometimes wind up next to each other.

Confident you know when to use into vs. in to? Test your skills below!

Quick Into vs. In To Quiz

Into vs In to Question #1

You can use “into” and “in to” interchangeably in a sentence.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is FALSE. “In” and “to” are two distinct words. Meanwhile, “into” can mean a metaphorical transformation or physical movement.

In to vs Into Question #2

Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is A. “Into” is a preposition that tells the reader about motion or direction.

Into or In to Question #3

Complete the sentence. He looked ___ her eyes.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is A. You use “into” to indicate movement or position.

In to or Into Question #4

Complete the sentence. Barry got ___ trouble.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is A. The preposition “into” can indicate literal or metaphorical action.

Into and In to Question #5

Complete the sentence. The repair man came ____ fix the TV.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is B. “In” and “to” are separate words that sometimes end up next to each other in a sentence.

In to and Into Question #6

“In” can be a ____, depending on the circumstance.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is D. The word “in” can be a preposition, an adverb, an adjective or a noun.

Into vs In to Quiz Result


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Read More: Than Vs. Then: How To Tell The Difference Once And For All

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Pam Weber

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, Writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

Comments (2)
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  1. Profile Image
    KINSLEY LEWIS (Student) March 02 at 10:50 pm GMT

    this is awesome!

    • Avatar
      Rechelle Ann Fuertes March 12 at 12:04 pm GMT

      Thank you, Kinsley! We know how confusing “into” and “in to” can be. Hopefully our article has helped clarify the difference between the two. Again, thank you for stopping by and reading our post! 🙂


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