Difference Between In and Into

The main difference between in and into is that the preposition in indicates the position of something while the preposition into indicates an action or movement.

In and into are both prepositions in the English Language. However similar they appear, these words have differences that are very important to remember when you are writing. Furthermore, in, in addition to preposition, can also act as a noun, adverb, or an adjective while into can only act as a preposition.

Key Areas Covered

1. What Does In Mean
     – Definition, Examples, Usage
2. What Does Into Mean
     – Definition, Examples, Usage
3. What is the Similarity Between In and Into
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between In and Into
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

English Language, Grammar, In, Into, Usage

Difference Between In and Into - Comparison Summary

What Does In Mean

In basically means ‘expressing the situation of something that is or appears to be enclosed or surrounded by something else.’

In is primarily a preposition but it also acts as an adverb, adjective and even as a noun accordingly. Consider the given example sentences:

In as a Preposition

The hamster is finally in its cage. (indicating inside or interior of something)

She said her son is in the ICU unit of the hospital

Mark was a leading vocalist in the band Westlife before it got split up. (indicating a part of something)

My parents have met each other in the late 1980s (indicating a time period)

He said he would call me back in ten minutes (indicating an amount of time)

My sister adores using watercolour in her drawings (indicating a means or manner of something)

The research pointed out that one in three people get diagnosed with a contagious disease in the area. ( Indicating a ratio) 

Main Difference - In vs Into

Figure 1: The hamster is finally in its cage

In as an Adverb

The residents confirmed that they never heard the burglar come in. (Indicating movement)

He locked me in a dark room as the punishment. (Indicating the situation of being enclosed)

In spite of the delay, the bus managed to get in at the proposed time. (Indicating arrival)

In as an Adjective

I won’t be in on Mondays. (Indicating of  being present at one’s home or office)

Carol said this cardigan is the in thing these days. (Informal manner to indicate something fashionable and trending)

In as a Noun

In is used as a noun to indicate a position of influence with someone powerful or famous. For example,

Everyone knew that he had an in with the new artist.

Therefore, In has varied applications according to its grammatical categories.

What Does Into Mean

Into can only act as a preposition, unlike in. The meaning of into is ‘expressing movement or action with the result that someone or something becomes enclosed or surrounded by something else’ or ‘expressing movement or action with the result that someone or something makes physical contact with something else.’ However, into has other meanings as well.

Refer the given example sentences,

Ryan got into the van just now. 

Peel the fruits and throw the peels into the dustbin.

He changed the language of his PC into Spanish.

Take the first narrow road you encounter; that will lead you into the village.

Difference Between In and Into

Figure 02: Clean the garden and throw the leaves into the dustbin.

Moreover, other uses of into as a preposition are,

The plane crashed into the same mountain as the last time. (Here, into indicates collision)

His reckless actions dragged him into a pitiful state of humiliation and desperation. ( Here, into indicates a result of an action)

This will offer you an insight into what happened to your husband ( Here, into indicates an object of attention or interest)

Similarity Between In and Into

Both can act as propositions in English grammar

Difference Between In and Into

Grammatical Category

In can act as a preposition, adverb, adjective and a noun while into can only act as a preposition.


In is used to indicate the position of something, a time period, a part of something, a mental or physical condition of something or someone, etc. while into is used to indicate an action or movement, or a transformation.


People tend to misuse the terms In and Into without knowing the differences in their grammatical usage. The difference between in and into is that in indicates the position or situation of something while into indicates a movement or action’. Moreover, while in can be a preposition, adverb, adjective as well as a noun at times, into can only be a preposition.

Image Courtesy:

1. “2724477” (CC0) via Pixabay
2. “294044”(CC0) via Pixabay

About the Author: Upen

Upen, BA (Honours) in Languages and Linguistics, has academic experiences and knowledge on international relations and politics. Her academic interests are English language, European and Oriental Languages, Internal Affairs and International Politics, and Psychology.

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