Word Pairs and Spelling for Different Parts of Speech

Posted: January 3rd, 2014, 2:43 pm   By: brittany.corners

If you struggle with choosing the correct spelling for words that are spelled differently depending on how they are used, this blog post is for you. Words like into/in to, onto/on to and others require different spellings in different situations. The spellings used depend on what you are trying to say as well as the part of speech the word takes. With that in mind, consider the following word pairs and their meanings when you are deciding on the appropriate spelling.

Into vs. in to

The major difference to remember here is that “into” is a preposition, and “in to” is an adverb (in) and a prepositions (to). “Into” is part of a prepositional phrase comprised of “into,” its object and any words that modify its object. Phrases that contain “into” function as an adverb that modifies the verb or phrase that precedes it.

“In to” on the other hand, means that “in” as an adverb modifies a verb, and “to” is a preposition that takes its own object. Choosing the wrong spelling can result in an incorrect meaning, often one that makes little sense. Consider the following examples:

Example 1: Consider silk bed sheets to turn your bedroom into a luxurious haven.

Example 2: Whether you are turning a presentation in to your professor or your boss, using these report covers creates a professional impression.

In the first example, “into” is a preposition that is part of the prepositional phrase “into a luxurious haven.” Its object is haven, and luxurious is an adjective that modifies haven. Using “in to” changes the meaning of the sentence to imply that you are literally taking your bedroom and handing it to a luxurious haven, which makes no sense.

Likewise, in the second example, “in” functions adverbially to modify turning, and “to” takes the object of “your professor or your boss.” Using “into” in this situation changes the sentence to mean you literally turn your presentation into your professor or boss – as in the presentation morphs into a person, which is impossible.

Onto vs. on to

This word pair works in the same way that into – in to does. A great way to know which spelling is correct is to use the “up” test. If you read a sentence out loud, and say “up” in front of “onto” or “on to,” and it makes sense, the correct choice is “onto.” Consider these examples:

Example 1: Read (up) on to learn about other confusing spellings for word pairs.

Example 2: Jump (up) onto your bike, and hit the trails in style with these bike helmets.

Everyday vs. every day

Another word pair that requires the proper spelling is everyday/every day. “Everyday” is an adjective that means daily or ordinary. “Every day” means each day.

Example: Everyday handbags from this collection let you hit the town in style every day.

Other word pairs with more than one spelling

Other words that are sometimes confusing include those that are one word when used as an adjective or noun and two when used as a verb. Consider and keep in mind these examples:

Example 1: Proper workout gear is essential for a workout that makes you work out at your potential.

Example 2: The playoffs are approaching, and each team’s energy is sure to play off that of other teams.

Example 3: Cleanup is a breeze with cleanup supplies that make it easy to clean up sticky messes.

Example 4: Leftover mashed potatoes are the only food left over from the barbecue.

With the word pairs identified here and many others, knowing what meaning you are trying to convey is essential in determining the correct spelling. If you are unsure, consult an online dictionary for the definitions for both spellings. When you know what you want to say, choosing the right spelling is easy.