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What's the difference?

Into, in to, onto and on to

When we use ‘into’, this suggests an action or change: I am getting into the car (moving from where I am to get inside the vehicle); I’m going to change into some fresh clothes (the act of removing my clothes, and at the same time, perhaps changing my appearance).


With ‘in to’, these are two separate words, and are usually linked with the verb go (or a similar verb to do with movement such as drive, cycle, run, walk, hop, jump, etc) when used means ‘I’m going to’ or ‘in order to’: I’m going in to his office to talk about the problem (this is what I intend to do). But when not used with such verbs, these are two completely separate words. ‘To’ is a preposition, and ‘in’ is a preposition or an adverb.


‘Onto’ and ‘on to’ is less clear. ‘Onto’ means ‘to be in a position that is on the surface of something’: His dinner fell onto the floor. However, there are many people who do not accept this form in standard English, and prefer ‘on to’, particularly in formal written English. (‘Onto’ is standard in American English.)  Now if the meaning is ‘onwards and towards’, the two word form should be used: Let’s move on to the next topic.


Made of/made from/made out of/made with

This is one I had to think about at first. Although I have tried to make these clearer below, I can understand why there may be some confusion with one or two of these. But I have tried. So…


Made of: If we say my earrings are made of gold, we are talking about the material from which it is made. Did you know my chair is in fact made of paper? Really? I thought it was made of wood!


Made from: If we say my table is made from sustainable forest wood, then we are talking about how something is manufactured. We are not talking about the material itself: My table is made of plastic, but plastic is made from oil.


Made out of: If we say that my CD boxes are made out of empty boxes of tea, then we are talking about something that has been changed from one thing into another. In the old days, many toys were made out of old toilet rolls and plastic bottles.


Made with: If we say my soup has been made with potatoes and vegetables, we are using this to talk about ingredients, usually of food and drink. Pizza is usually made with mozzarella cheese.

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