Posted by: Idioma Extra | August 31, 2011

Thursday Tidbit – In / into, on / onto

In/into, on/onto  

The prepositions in/into and on/onto are often confused by students learning English. The explanation is quite easy, though. Let’s take a look.

In / Into

In is used when something is already located inside of something, for example:

The book is in the backpack.

The students are in the room, waiting for the teacher.

 Into, however, is used when there is movement from the outside to inside, for example:

He put the books into the backpack. (The book were originally outside the backpack.)

The students went into the room to wait for the teacher. (They were outside the room.)


Similarly, on is used when the thing or person is already located something, for example:

The phone is on the table.

There’s a monkey on my car.

Onto, similar to into, is used when there is movement to the surface or place, for example:

I moved the phone onto the table.

The monkey jumped onto my car.

 Check Yourself

Underline the correct preposition to complete the sentence.

1. You’re not allowed to put drinks (on / onto) the table.

2. There is a lot of cat hair (in / into) my pockets.

3. Can you put some ice cubes (in / into) my drink, please?

4. They called the contestants (on / onto) the stage.

5. I entered the information (in / into) the computer.

6. He kept looking (in / into) my eyes.

7. He put too many spices (in / into) the tacos.

8. The cat jumped (onto / on) the table.

9. They sent the shuttle (in / into) space.

10. You should put your computer (into / in) your trunk when parking.

Answers to last week’s Check Yourself

Circle the appropriate word to complete the sentence. Then read the sentence again with the optional prepositions to see if it sounds right.

1. I’m pretty sure that I will have to work (beyond / over) midnight because I have so much work.

2. He received (over / beyond) 50 “get well” cards while he was in the hospital.

3. You have to go (over / beyond) expectations if you want to get a promotion.

4. Cheetahs can run (beyond / over) 50 mph.

5. His blood/alcohol level was (over /beyond) the legal limit.

6. He was surprised that (beyond / over) 100 people came to his party.

7. He couldn’t see (beyond / over) the mountain.

8. The human body has (beyond / over) 200 bones.

9. Many people wonder what will happen (beyond / over) this life when we die.

10. The ship sank because it was (over / beyond) its capacity for passengers.


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