Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"

English prepositions can be extremely confusing.

How do you know when to use ‘onto’ or ‘into?’

Let’s tackle this grammar question in today’s episode.

Listen to stories and roleplays from Lindsay and Aubrey and learn how to use these prepositions properly.

What are you into these days?

Aubrey got really into self-publishing.

She just wrote a book of instructions for games and didn’t want to go through the hassle of finding an agent and a publisher to get her book out there.

She feels so good to complete a project she is passionate about.

Aubrey mentions that she often starts projects and then puts them on the back burner when she gets busy.

The idiom ‘put it on the back burner’ means to deprioritize something.

You can use this phrase to refer to things you don’t want to do right now and can circle back to when you’re ready.

Tricky prepositions

When Aubrey said she is ‘into’ self-publishing, she is sharing what she is interested in.

The preposition ‘into’ can be used for talking about something you really like doing.

It can also refer to the location of something.

A listener sent a question to clarify how to use ‘into’ versus ‘onto.’

In a previous episode, we mentioned Arlene’s question which had several parts.

She asked about how to use ‘on’, ‘in’, and ‘at’ which we answered in episode AEE 1921: Pesky Prepositions of Place in English Grammar: In, On, or At.

She also asked about using the prepositions ‘into’ and ‘onto’.

The team had to break the answer into two episodes because there’s so much to know.

All Ears English simplifies by narrowing the focus when diving into the specifics of all the grammar rules.

How to use ‘into’ and ‘onto’

‘Onto’ and ‘into’ are prepositions of action.

Something is changing location when we use these two.

On the other hand, ‘on’ and ‘in’ are used when the action already happened and we are describing the location.

It is easy to make mistakes and interchange these prepositions.

Today we’ll share details to remember how to use each properly.

#1: Into

This preposition describes an action that happens in an enclosed space or enclosed within something else.


  • Jump into the pool.
  • He fell into bed.
  • She walked into the office.

All examples mentioned show that the person moved and entered an enclosed space.

If you used ‘in’ instead of ‘into’ in these examples, you would change the meaning.

Using ‘in’ means they are already in the space and not moving towards it.

Native speakers will often use both ‘in’ and ‘into’ regardless of the meaning.

In that case, the meaning is determined based on context.

#2: Onto

This preposition is used to express movement from one position to another.

She walked onto the stage.
He climbed onto the roof.
The cat jumped onto the bed.

You would notice in the examples, they have moved from one space to another.

If you used ‘on’ instead of ‘onto’ in the examples, it would mean that they are already in the same position.

For example, “She walked on the stage” means she was already on the stage and started walking around.

However, “She walked onto the stage” means she was offstage and entered the stage.


Now that you have learned the difference between ‘into’ and ‘onto’, we’ll share a quick roleplay.

This shows how to use these prepositions in a conversation.

In this scenario, Lindsay and Aubrey are working together in a bakery.

Lindsay: Can you put all those scones into the oven?
Aubrey: Absolutely. Someone just came into the kitchen, so let me see what they need and I’ll get on that.
Lindsay: Perfect. I think it’s Jane. She said she saw a rat climbing onto the roof this morning.


English prepositions can be very confusing.

The All Ears English team has made tons of episodes to clarify how to use the right prepositions in your conversations.

They have broken down the meaning of each preposition and have provided examples and roleplays to better understand it.

Don’t get overwhelmed with getting these correct every time.

Using ‘in’ instead of ‘into’ or ‘on’ instead of ‘onto’ is not a glaring mistake.

Even natives do this all the time.

Don’t let the fear of making a grammar error keep you from connecting with friends and colleagues in English.

Keep starting conversations and connecting!

What other prepositions do you find confusing?

Share it in the comments below.

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