‘Into' or 'Onto': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on May 23, 2023

Trying to decide whether to use 'into or 'onto?' If so, this guide will teach you what each means and when to use them, and it contains example sentences, pronunciations, definitions, and usage rules to help you remember the difference in the future.

Before we start, are you in a hurry?

If so, here is the short answer:

  • 'Into' is a preposition that means something is or will be enclosed or encased in something. 
  • 'Onto' is a preposition that indicates that the position of something is on something else.

Now that you know the short answer, read the rest of this post to ensure you know exactly how and when to use each term.

What's the Difference Between 'Into' or 'Onto?'

'Into' and 'onto' are both prepositions. In the case of these terms, the prepositions show the position of the nouns they describe. If you use the first word, you indicate that something is in, enclosed, or encased in something. The latter means that the position is on the subject.

When to Use 'Into' or 'Onto'

So, you know that both words are prepositions, like:

  • Above
  • Beyond
  • Before
  • After
  • Under
  • Around
  • At
  • Beneath
  • Prior
  • Former
  • In
  • On

Which are used to modify nouns. But how do you know when to use 'into' or 'onto?'

  • Use 'into' when you are describing ingredients being folded together.

For example, you might see a recipe that says:

Pour the mixture into cupcake tins. 

  • Use 'into' when speaking about someone going to do an activity in a business or structure.

For example, you could say:

Are you going into the office, or will you work remotely for the rest of the week?

  • Use 'into' when asking what activities someone is involved in.

For example, someone might ask you:

What are you into? Do you like sports and outdoor activities, or do you enjoy spending time indoors?

  • Use 'into' to describe someone being accepted to join an organization.

For example, you might see a letter or email that says:

We are happy to announce your acceptance into our prestigious organization. 

  • Use 'onto' to describe something on top of something else.

For example, I might say:

Please move that bag onto the counter, so we can see what is inside. 

  • Use 'onto' to say that you are putting something on an object, list, etc.

For example, a friend could tell you:

You moved onto the leaderboard after the last race.

  • Use 'onto' when talking about someone opening your eyes or introducing you to something.

For example, you could say:

Do you have any job you can put me onto in your area? I would love to move there, but I would need to secure full-time employment before I could. 

Definition of 'Into’: What Does 'Into' Mean?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the preposition 'into' as:

  • To indicate a noun entered was welcomed or included in something

It can also indicate:

  • Direction
  • A position against something
  • A transfer of state or position
  • Interest
  • Involvement
  • Existence within something
  • A mathematical function of dividing one

Phrases Containing 'Into'

  • Back into
  • Bite into
  • Break into
  • Brought into
  • Burst into
  • Buy into
  • Crash into
  • Crash into
  • Drive into
  • Dive into
  • Fall into
  • Enter into
  • Factor into
  • Fold into
  • Fit into
  • Give into
  • Go into
  • Hop into
  • Jump into
  • Kick into
  • Lock into
  • Look into
  • Lift into
  • Move into
  • Not into
  • Pop into
  • Push into
  • Put into
  • Rope into
  • Reach into
  • Suck into
  • Soak into
  • Talk into
  • Vote into
  • Walk into
  • Wander into
  • Work into
  • Zap into

Definition of 'Onto’: What Does 'Onto' Mean?

The same dictionary defines 'onto' as:

  • In a position on something

It can also imply:

  • The state of being aware
  • Putting something on

Phrases Containing 'Onto'

  • Add onto
  • Brought onto
  • Catch onto
  • Cling onto
  • Get onto
  • Hop onto
  • Jump onto
  • Latch onto
  • Move onto
  • Pop onto
  • Pull onto
  • Put me onto
  • Put onto
  • Take onto
  • Onto bigger and better things
  • Onto the next one

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Into' or 'Onto'

Now let's take a look at the pronunciation of these two words:

  • Use this phonetic spelling to correctly pronounce 'into':


  • You can use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'onto':


Example Sentences Using 'Into' or 'Onto'

Before you go, read these sample sentences to ensure that you know how to use 'into' and 'onto' in different contexts.


  • Get into the car quickly. Otherwise, we are going to be late.
  • What exactly are you into? I like music, painting, and spending time outdoors.
  • How far into the latest episode are you? I can't wait to talk to someone about it, but I do not want to spoil it for you.
  • I didn't have a clear view of how we would reach the goal before, but everything is coming into focus now.
  • Do you go into the neighborhood, or is the location off the main street?


  • Take a right onto the first street after you go through the traffic light.
  • After you turn onto the street, it is the green-colored house five doors down on the left.
  • We believe in you. You were out onto this team because you have the skills and knowledge necessary to serve our biggest clients.
  • Please put the cupcakes onto the stand on the table.
  • I just put my best friend onto a new business idea.


  • I would love to hear about how to get into your business, if you wouldn't mind putting me onto it.
  • After you pull into the neighborhood, you turn onto the first street on the right.
  • Put the cream you put the lemon zest into onto the cake.
  • You do not want to get onto that site. You could get into a lot of trouble.

Final Thoughts on The Difference Between 'Into' or 'Onto'

That was a lot of information. So, here is a quick recap: 

  • Use the preposition 'into' to describe something that is inside something else. 
  • Use the preposition 'onto' to indicate that something is on something else. 

You should be an expert in using these terms. However, if you get tripped up in the future, you can always come back here to review this lesson.

You can also learn about other commonly misused words and phrases in the other confusing words guides here. They contain usage examples, definitions, and pronunciations of some of the most challenging English terms.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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