Prepositions TO, INTO or IN TO? (Intermediate English)

Use the prepositions TO and INTO like a native speaker, plus learn how to correctly use INTO and IN TO with your English writing.

The preposition to can mean – in the direction of something; towards something.
“The ball rolled to the end of the Street.”
Go into or get into it means to enter or to go inside.
“Kevin walked into the party and started looking for his friends.
Into can also mean – in the direction of something
“If you stare into the sun you will damage your eyes.”
We can find the words in to as a combination of a phrasal verb and another verb to show purpose.
“I was in the neighborhood so I thought I would drop in to say good morning.”

Language students everywhere face the same challenge – PREPOSITIONS. I struggle with Japanese prepositions myself as a language student. This struggle has helped me understand the easiest way to learn them, and as a teacher, it has shown me the best way to teach them.

With lots of natural examples!

The preposition TO is a common word that most people studying English can easily recognize. This word has different uses and meanings, but the most basic way to use it is with verbs of movement. It means:

– in the direction of something; towards something.

All definitions in this post come from Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

We go/come or travel TO a place or an event

  • I have to travel to Europe a lot for my job.
  • Are you coming to my party this Saturday?
  • I went to the Fuji Rock festival in 2011, it was amazing.
  • Andre saw a huge dog on his way to work.
  • My sister went to Venezuela for 6 months after university.

15 verbs of movement used with the preposition TO

(These examples were chosen because the verbs are followed directly by the preposition to.)

*Click the verb to learn it’s meaning at Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

VerbExample sentence
driveMy friend and I drove to Florida when we were in high school.
getHow do you get to Tokyo station?
goAre you going to the class picnic this Saturday?
jogI jog to school when the weather is nice.
limpAfter the tackle, Zachary stood up slowly and limped to the bench.
moveI’m moving to a new house in October.
on one’s wayCan you drop me off at school on your way to work?
rollThe ball rolled to the end of the Street.
rushAfter work, I rushed to my daughter’s school to watch her in the school play.
runWe got scared so we ran to our friend’s house.
sprintIn the final stretch of the race, Denise sprinted to the finish line.
staggerDerek set his beer down, got off his stool, and staggered to the bathroom.
swaggerFeeling very confident Peter swaggered to the front of the class.
tiptoeI didn’t want to wake my wife so I tiptoed to the kitchen to get a midnight snack.
walkI usually walk to school but sometimes I take the bus.

The preposition TO with the noun trip and the Passive Voice

Sometimes need to use the preposition TO with the noun trip.

  • We take a family trip to Ottawa every summer to visit my grandparents.
  • Jessica is planning a trip to Spain next Spring.
  • How was your trip to Ireland?

We also use the passive voice with verbs of movement if the person WAS MOVED somewhere.

Passive voice uses the verb to be (am, is, are, was, were) plus the past participle form of the verb in the main action.

  • After the accident, he was taken to the hospital.
  • The president’s plane was late due to poor weather. As soon as he landed he was rushed to the summit.
  • Gregory was a noisy student. He was moved to the front of the class so the teacher could keep an eye on him.

Some more verbs of movement that are used in the passive voice with the preposition to. These verbs are in the past participle form.

  • Airlifted – an operation to take people, soldiers, food, etc. to or from an area by aircraft, especially in an emergency or when roads are closed or dangerous

The crash victim was airlifted to the nearest hospital.

  • Brought – to come to a place with somebody/something

The suspect was brought to the courthouse from the local jail.

  • Carried – to support the weight of somebody/something and take them or it from place to place; to take somebody/something from one place to another

The medical staff came on the field and the player was carried to the locker room. 

  • Shipped – to send or transport somebody/something by ship or by another means of transport

The equipment was shipped to the factory this morning.

Prepositions TO INTO

The preposition INTO – meaning

When we say go into or get into it means to enter or to go inside.

  • The president went into the conference room and started talking to the other world leaders. (The president entered the conference room)
  • Kevin walked into the party and started looking for his friends. (Kevin entered the party)
  • A mouse got into my house through a hole in my basement. (A mouse went inside my house)
  • I put the shoes back into the shoebox so they wouldn’t get damaged. (I put the shoes inside the box)
  • Somebody broke into our office last night and stole my laptop. (Someone forced entry to our office) BREAK IN and BREAK UP (Video + QUIZ)

The preposition IN can be used by itself sometimes too.

  • 3 girls came into the store.
  • 3 girls came in the store.
Prepositions INTO

One meaning of INTO is very similar to the preposition TO.

– in the direction of something

But this meaning of INTO is not used with verbs of movement. Here are 3 examples:

  • Please speak directly into the mic.
  • If you stare into the sun you will damage your eyes.
  • I looked into her eyes and I felt she was being sincere.

Speak, stare and look are not verbs of movement. A microphone, the sun and her eyes are not places we move to. INTO is used more with places of focus.

Speak directly (focus your voice) INTO the microphone.
– If you stare (focus your eyes) INTO the sun you will damage your eyes.
– I looked (focused deeply) INTO her eyes and I felt she was being sincere.

Verbs used with the preposition INTO

Here are some verbs that are commonly used with the preposition INTO.

  • To meet or make contact with
bumpI bumped into my boss’s wife at the supermarket.
crashThe truck crashed into a traffic light. Luckily no one was hurt.
runI ran into my boss’s wife at the supermarket.
*Bump INTO and run INTO mean – to meet by accident.
  • To put something into two or more parts
cutThe cake was cut into eight slices.
divideThe homeowner divided his basement into two parts. He made separate bedrooms for his two sons.
splitThe woodsman swung his axe and split the wood into 2 pieces.
  • To change from one language INTO another
translate This book is very popular. it has been translated into eight languages.

In to or Into?

Many of my private and group lesson students have been confused when they see a sentence that has the words IN and TO next to each other. They feel like they should always be written as one word – INTO. This is not correct. Let me show you how to know which pattern to use.

In English, we often use Phrasal Verbs. A phrasal verb is a verb plus a preposition and many phrasal verbs are made with the preposition IN.

Here are some examples:

  • Drop in – to pay an informal visit to a person or a place

I was in the neighborhood so I thought I would drop in to say good morning.

*To say is the infinitive form of the verb SAY. The preposition TO is showing purpose in this sentence. To say good morning is the reason we dropped in. INTO is not correct here.

  • Log in – to perform the actions that allow you to begin using a computer system, application, or online account

My friend is addicted to Social media. As soon as he wakes up he logs in to his Facebook account before he even gets out of bed.

Learn and use 50 Common Phrasal Verbs – video+PDF

Prepositions TO INTO and IN TO


Login is written as one word when it is used as a noun.

Please enter your login ID to continue.

Log in is a phrasal verb that means that you connect to a machine (such as a host, server, workstation and so on) or authenticate to a user interface by providing your credentials. In this case, to is a preposition that links the phrasal verb to the upcoming word. – That is why the correct spelling is log in to not log into.

To, Into, In to Conclusion

The preposition to can be used with verbs of movement. Go into or get into it means to enter or to go inside. We can find the words in to as a combination of a phrasal verb and another noun or to show purpose. 

Has today’s blog post been helpful for you to understand the difference between these prepositions? Be sure to check out my other preposition blog posts, videos, and more. Have a look at my Resource page too for more helpful English tools, courses and freebies.

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