Tag Archives: usage

Since When is “Into” ALWAYS One Word?

After seeing into all my life and thinking nothing of it, over just the past few months, it has caused me an existential crisis.

My only personal run-in was with some high school short story I wrote where a character walked “into the door” somewhere. My English teacher said it meant the character had actual impact with the door.

Yikes! Lesson learned.

(On the other hand, if I’d written that he walked “through the door,” this teacher, who seemed to take everything literally, would have claimed the character reduced the door to splinters.)

Now it seems everybody uses into as one word EVERY TIME.

I consulted Grammar Girl™ Mignon Fogarty’s Quick and Dirty Tips™, and found some comfort and clarification. She explained that into is a preposition generally relating to direction. (He walked into the room.)

I’ll add that it also relates to transformation. (She turned into a witch for Halloween.)

And I’ll add that it may be one word if you mean “to go inside” or “within.” (He jumped into his jeep.)

One more addition: It’s one word if you mean “intense interest.” (He’s really into playing with model trains.)

I’ve seen the following example written as one word, but I would say it should be two, like this:

I’m going to move in to a new house.

That’s because we call it “move-in day,” not “move-into day.” And because the sentence is intended to convey the act of moving rather than that the writer is going inside a new house.

Here’s an example as written that made my eyelid twitch because I think it’s wrong:

I can’t come into work on weekends.

The author meant that he couldn’t go there to do any work, not that he was physically unable get inside the office.

In my book, these next examples are also two words, even though you could make a weak argument that some direction is implied.

The maid came in to tidy up.

I think I’ll turn in to bed for the night.

The suspect turned himself in to police.

Bottom line: In my own writing, I find myself trying to avoid using into altogether. It’s not easy. There has to be a better way.

Wild and Wacky AP Style

I’m developing a new course for the University of Richmond (Va.) School of Continuing Studies I’m calling AP Style for Business Writers because I’ve met many clients who claim to use it as their in-house writing style — except when they don’t.

I’ve never understood why corporate America glommed on to AP. It’s for news journalists. How many office workers need to know proper capitalization of Osama bin Laden (who, by the way, dropped out of the Stylebook somewhere between 2011 and 2013)?

The Stylebook devotes only 10 pages to all punctuation matters, whereas my old 6th edition of The Gregg Reference Manual (my preferred writing guide, back in the day) devoted 26 pages to commas alone.

The Stylebook is in alphabetical order, which means you must look up every stinking prefix (non-, dis-, un-) to find out which ones need hyphens.

So, preparing this class, I’ve had to read 300+ pages of the current Stylebook and compare them to the 2011 edition (I skipped 2012 — life’s too short) to ferret out any updates because AP willfully REFUSES to flag them.

Here’s one change for you: They dropped the hyphen from moped.

In the process, I have compiled and usefully organized the material that’s pertinent to business writers, and it fits in to 22 pages of handouts. Yup, that fat Stylebook is 99.8% irrelevant.

Here are a few points I uncovered that you might find interesting:

  • Never, under any circumstances, abbreviate department as dept.
  • Never use abbreviations for state names with five or fewer letters EXCEPT Alaska Hawaii (because they’re unattached to the U.S.) or the District of Columbia.
  • Never use italics. For anything. Ever.
  • Ditto for asterisks * and brackets [ ].
  • Lists of items should begin with dashes, never with any of Word’s bullet characters.
  • Every item in a list should end with a period, even if it’s a single word.
  • Parentheses used within a sentence are a sign the sentence has a problem. (Do mine?)
  • It’s not “Merry Christmas,” but “merry Christmas.”

I’m eager to have my first class because it’s bound to attract AP pros who want a refresher — and are possibly hoping for spirited debate.

I think everyone’s soon going to realize that the denizens of corporate America don’t embrace AP style with the fervor they think they do.

OK, I can’t resist. One more:

You’re not supposed to write, The meeting is on Tuesday, but, The meeting is Tuesday.

Well, two more:

And don’t write, We met last Wednesday. Make it, We met Wednesday.

The past-tense verb is supposed to clue the reader in to which Wednesday you mean.

The same goes for next Wednesday. If you write, We will meet Wednesday, you clearly mean next week (if it’s already Thursday).

I uncovered those relatively obscure nuggets for expressing dates under the entry for “on.”

Oh, this is going to be a fun class.