'In to' vs 'into' are often used interchangeably. But do they mean the same thing? And how should you use them? That's what you're about to find out.
In short, 'in to' are two separate words that sometimes end up next to each other. 'Into' is a preposition that shows movement towards the inside of something.
'In to' and 'into' cannot be used interchangeably as they don't have the same meaning. Let's find out more.
'In' is an adverb, and 'to' is a preposition. They are separate words; if you see a sentence with these two words next to each other, they're usually part of two different phrases or clauses.
Take the following sentence, for example:
Sam just dropped in to grab a coffee.
Here, Sam didn't enter into the 'grab.' That would be absurd, as it doesn't make any sense. You can't enter a 'grab.' No, instead, we're using here the phrasal verb 'drop in,' followed by 'to,' which introduces the reason for the visit.
As you can see, the words 'in' and 'to' serve two different purposes; they just happen to be next to each other in the sentence.
This doesn't mean that 'in' is always part of a phrasal verb, but that is often the case. Many phrasal verbs end with 'in.' For example:
An excellent way to know whether 'in' and 'to' as separate words is the correct spelling is to check if you can use 'in order to.' If it works, then you got it right. Let's try that with our previous example:
Sam dropped in in order to grab a coffee.
This sentence makes sense; therefore, 'in to' is the correct spelling.
'Into,' on the other hand, is a standalone word - a preposition - that describes an entering movement. In other words, something is placed inside something else. For example, when you 'go into the store,' you enter the store. You go inside.
But 'into' can also express a transformation. You can turn into something or turn something into something. Take the famous movie "The Princess and the Frog," for example. Tiana is turned into a frog after a voodoo spell is placed on her.
There are also phrasal verbs that contain the word 'into,' like:
Now we've clarified the meaning of 'in to' and 'into,' let's find out how to pronounce them. Firstly, you should know they are both pronounced the same. The International Phonetics Alphabet spells them like this:
And they sound like this when said out loud:
Now let's take a look at some examples of these words being used in context. We'll start with 'in to.'
You'll hear my song if you tune in to the local radio station on Friday at 9 am.
Log in to your email account and find the message from HR.
You must check in to your flight before you can onboard the plane.
She stepped in to try to stop the argument.
Plug your phone in to charge it up.
Now let's look at some examples that use 'into.'
After a long day, she got into a nice warm bath to unwind.
I ran into Mark at the office today.
Let's not go too far into the woods; it's getting dark, and we might get lost.
I'm not sure what happened to him, but it's like he changed into a completely different person overnight.
The morning after a full moon, a werewolf changes back into a human.
I hope this article has helped you better understand the difference between 'in to' and 'into' and that you feel more confident using them.
If you're ever in doubt, to remember the difference, ask yourself:
Is this something I can go inside of? If yes, it's 'into.'
Does this mean 'in order to'? If yes, use 'in to.'
And if you want to learn about more confusing words, head to our blog.