Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Into or In To

A curious malady has cropped up recently, and it's effecting both writers in print and writers whose words end up on television. The word 'into' is being substituted for the two-words 'in to'.

Now some of you may be wondering what the hell is the problem. You may even be thinking they're interchangeable. They didn't used to be, but with the way English has a tendency to morph, I really don't know anymore. Judge for yourself.

Into - a preposition "used as a function word to indicate entry, introduction, insertion, superposition, or inclusion"

While 'in to' usually means going 'in' somewhere 'to' do something.

For instance:

John went into the house. OR John went in to go to bed.

In more than one book lately and on the news tickers of several different TV channels, I've seen 'into' used in place of 'in to'. I don't know if the writers understand how it changes the meaning of their sentences or whether it's just a typo.

I know I'm being a stickler for detail, but when you think about how language is standardized to make it easier for people to communicate with one another, being a stickler is very important. In the olden days, English wasn't standardized, and it left literate people having to slog through every page just to discern what the writer was trying to say. We've gone beyond that. Haven't we? Or are we sliding back toward the days when English was just all higgledy-piggledy?

Or to put it another way, are we dropping into the days of old, or are we just stopping in to get a spot of tea?

(Lame last bit, I know, but it's early yet.)

1 comment:

WordVixen said...

*LOL* I started going the other way... changing all "into"'s to in to. :) I can never remember which is right.