Have you ever wondered about these things:
♦What reports should I hand in to the shareholders? Maybe I should feed the reports into the shredder instead?
♦Couldn’t we move on to brighter thoughts before we move onto the carpet for story time?
The correct preposition to use may seem obvious when examples are put side by side as above, but this is something that writers often get wrong.
Into is used to indicate entry. Amy Einsohn’s Copyeditor’s Handbook offers other instances of into:
- involvement: check into the allegations
- occupation: go into the arts
- condition: get into metaphorical hot water
- extent: deep into hot water
- direction: look into the abyss
- contact: slam into a linebacker
- transformation: turn into a bridezilla
In to is the adverb in with the preposition to. The adverb in completes a verb such as hand in or give in.
Similarly, onto means to move to the top of something. Einsohn delineates its other uses:
- attachment: put coats onto hooks
- awareness: he’s onto her wiles
And on to is the adverb on followed by the preposition to: read on to the juicy part, travel on to the next town.
Now that you’re onto (awareness) proper preposition use, you’re ready to look into (involvement) other topics of grammar. But not before we give in to temptation and go into the bar for a Friday afternoon beer.