Into vs. In To: The straightforward information to retaining it straight

Stick to the distinction between "in" and "in"? You're not alone! Don't worry, I've covered you.

The quick version:

Into vs. In To

Use "in" to describe where something is: go into something else.
Use "in to ” based on the verb in front of it. It can have many meanings, but here's a quick tip that covers some of them: If you can replace it with "um", use "in um".

Read on for the longer explanation as well as examples of In vs. In to. Or download ProWritingAid, my favorite grammar checker, which will help you automatically understand these two words correctly. Download ProWritingAid.

"In To" vs. "Into" is difficult due to phrasal verbs

A phrase verb is a two-word verb. There are several phrase verbs that contain "in" and this is the beginning of all our problems.

Here are some of the phrase verbs that contain "in":

  • registration
  • Come round
  • Ended in
  • Chime in
  • Turn in
  • Move in
  • Submit
  • Join in
  • Give in
  • Come in
  • Chip in
  • Collapse
  • Incise
  • Add
  • stay tuned
  • Let in

Here's why this is important:

If "in" is part of a phrase verb, it is always "in", not "in". Changing to "in" would change the meaning of the verb, even if the preposition were appropriate.

Here is an example of a phrase verb that is used correctly and incorrectly:

Correct: Can you register for me on your computer?

Not correct: Can you register for me on your computer?

Not correct: Can you register for me on your computer?

Another example:

Correct: I will go to bed.

Not correct: I will go to bed.

You see, that would be strange because if you are not Harry Potter it will be difficult to turn into a bed!

"Into" is also part of some phrase verbs, such as:

  • In some race
  • Bump into
  • Break in
  • Cut in (I know that both break-in and cut are also on the list above, but they have different meanings. They cut into a piece of cake but cut a dance partner)
  • look into

Here these prhasal verbs are always "in".

In is a preposition

Aside from phrase verbs, In and In are fairly easy to find.

Into is a preposition, which means that it denotes a place and in this case a movement towards a place.

It can also refer to a kind of transformation. For example:

Jim turned into a car.

Remember, in that case, you wouldn't say, "Jim turned into a car."

And if Jim drove the car and didn't do a Kafka-like transformation, you wouldn't say, "Jim turned into the driveway," because that would mean that he became a driveway. Which would be kind of weird, right?

"In To" are two separate words

"In" and "to" are two unrelated words: the adverb "in" and the preposition "to".

Sometimes they bump into each other (by bumping, not because of phrase verbs, these annoying things). And when that happens, chaos arises. However, keep in mind what we talked about above and you will be fine.

"In" and "to" can have many meanings, depending on the verb preceding "in", but a common one is "in to".

Are you fighting "in" against "in to"? Post your problematic sentence in the comment section. If you are a grammar professional, check if you can help someone by answering their question.


Here is a prompt so you can practice in vs in:

There's a hole somewhere. Maybe it's in the ground, maybe in space, maybe in a fence, but it's there. Write over this hole for fifteen minutes and use it correctly in and out as often as possible.

Post your practice in the comments and leave feedback for your co-writers.

Joe Bunting

Joe BuntingJoe Bunting is the author and leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real adventure story in France. It was a # 1 new release on Amazon. You can follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).