Bad Grammar Illustrated: Into or In To?*

February 1, 2017

I am soooo into grammar. Or am I in to grammar? I'm pretty sure I'm into it. But then again maybe I'm in to it. Oh, no! I've said it so many times I've reached semantic satiation. Banana, banana, banana, banana. OK, phew, I shook it off for a new one.

So, what is the difference between "into" and "in to"? Should that question mark have been inside or outside the quotation mark? Were quotation marks the way to go!? It's easy to go down the rabbit hole when it comes to grammar and word usage. This stuff is complicated! But hopefully this blog will make it a little easier to understand and remember by employing disgusting illustrations. For example, today's quandary can be answered like this:

"In to" are two separate words. Duh. "In" is an adverb, meaning it describes an action, and "to" is a preposition meaning it shows the location, time, or direction of a noun. It  can't function without that noun—sort of like an internet troll without a self-esteem problem, it's existence just wouldn't make sense. To use this phrase you must be doing something to something. Like you can hand your paper in to your teacher. Or you can give in to your desire for bacon-flavored ice cream. You know, whatever you're into.

That brings us to "into," which is a preposition with a crap ton of definitions. Primarily it indicates entry or insertion, as in, "Let's go into the ocean." Ah, refreshing!** It can also be a state or condition (being super into grammar) or used to indicate direction (like when I ride off into the sunset, which I am absolutely known to do) or in a sentence about division (which is only exciting when you're dividing three pizzas into two take-out boxes). Got it?

No? Well, if the words didn't help you remember the rule, maybe the disgusting illustration will. It sure helps me!
 

*You may think you've caught me in an error of headline-capitalization style, because "in" is very rarely capitalized in a headline. In this blog's title, however, it's an adverb, not a preposition. According to The Chicago Manual of Style, which is my go-to, adverbs are capitalized regardless of length. Now you're probably asking, "What about 'into,' then? That's a preposition, and you just implied they don't get capitalized!" Well, I'm glad you're paying attention, even if it's just to catch me screwing up. Since "into" follows a colon, it deserves capitalization, smartypants.

 

**Why do we say "into" instead of "in" here? Because "in" is a static word used to indicate where something already is. "I'm already in the ocean, bro!" Whereas "into" indicates movement; the motion into the ocean.

 

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