Using Onto vs On To

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

If you have ever been confused by the word 'onto' and the words 'on to' you are not alone. This can be a tricky topic. In this lesson, we will describe the difference between 'onto' and 'on to.'

Rules in English

There are many quirky rules in the English language. Anyone who speaks it can attest to this fact. Some of those weird rules have to do with words that can combine and become one word. For example, the words 'on' and 'to' can combine to become the word 'onto.' Even though the only difference between 'on' and 'onto' is a single space, the difference in meaning is important.

On To

The words 'on' and 'to' are used together when the verb includes the word 'on.' For example, if you were listening to a really boring lecture in class, your instructor might say something like ''let's move on to the next point.'' This riveting sentence would be spelled with the 'on' and the 'to' as separate words because 'move on' is the complete idea of the verb. Therefore, instead of combining 'on' with 'to', you would combine it with 'move' since they belong together. Even if some space has come between them, they have always belonged together. By the way, when two words make up a single verb idea it is called a phrasal verb.

Log On To

Another ubiquitous (meaning 'appearing everywhere') example of 'on to' is when you see the phrase 'log on to.' Just like with the 'move on' example, the words 'log' and 'on' go together. This is because the word 'on' is part of the verb 'log.' One way to tell if the word 'on' belongs with the verb is to write (or just think of ) the sentence without the word 'on'. If the word 'on' is the only word that would fit into the sentence, then the 'on' and the 'to' should be written separately. Check out this sentence: ''You should always hang on _____ what is precious.'' The word 'to' should seem like a natural fit.

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