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On to vs. Onto
We continue to receive many inquiries about when to use on to vs. onto. This grammar tip last appeared in the E-Newsletter of January 5, 2010. We recently discovered there is one more important rule for correctly using onto, which is added as Rule 2 today.
Rule 1: Use onto as one word if you can add up before on.
Example: He climbed (up) onto the roof.
Example: She held on to her child in the crowd. (She did not hold up her child.)
Rule 2: Use onto when you mean fully aware of; informed about.
Example: We canceled Julia's surprise party when we realized she was onto our plan.
Due to the E-Newsletter's large readership, we are unable to respond to individual English usage questions.
Scroll down to view answers.
1. You better hold on to/onto your hat on that roller coaster!
2. I'm going to have to climb on to/onto the roof to fix that leak again.
3. The guards are on to/onto the prisoners' scheme to break out of jail.
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Thanks to Ian B. for pointing out this poem, that even beats last week's Wordplay for number of prepositions ending a sentence!
The Naughty Preposition
by Morris Bishop
I lately lost a preposition:
It hid, I thought, beneath my chair.
And angrily I cried: "Perdition!
Up from out of in under there!"
Correctness is my vade mecum,
And straggling phrases I abhor;
And yet I wondered: "What should he come
Up from out of in under for?"
Pop Quiz Answers
1. on to
Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.