Into vs. On: What’s the Difference?

Prepositions can be tricky. Often their differences are subtle. These little words tell us when and where things happen. They show us location and time—above, along, in, around, before, during, after, for example. 

Into and on are two prepositions that can be easy to mix up. When do you say “into something” vs. “on something”? 

Well, we’re here to sort that out. 

Into tells us that something is going inside another thing—“There is creme filling going into that donut.” 

On, on the other hand, is used when something is outside and above something else—“There is a chocolate glaze on that donut.”

How to Use Into Correctly

Into, according to Merriam-Webster, is “used as a function word to indicate entry, introduction, insertion, superposition, or inclusion.” When something enters something else, it is going “into” it. 

Here are some examples:

  • “He walked into the building.”
  • “I am going into that bank over there”
  • “Will you put those brewskies into the fridge?”

Merriam-Webster also notes that into can be related to states and conditions—like getting “into” trouble—as well as occupations and interests—like going “into” baking or being “into” classical music.

We also use into to refer to periods of time. For example, a psychic can “see into the future,” while a student may study “long into the night.”

How to Use On Correctly

On is used to show a position in contact with the top or outer surface of something. 

For example:

  • “The keys are on the table.”
  • “Wallpaper is on the wall.”
  • “There is a spider on the ceiling.”

On is also used to show location, as in “on the right,” “on the north side,” or “on the ranch.”

We also use on to refer to electronics, as in “turning on the TV.”

Sometimes on can mean near, as when we say “he has a house on the river.” 

On can have more abstract uses, like with time: “It happened on Sunday.” Or topics: “We agreed on that.”

There are many many similar uses of the word on. Here are some more examples:

  • “He lectured on ancient Egypt.”
  • “The animal feeds on plants.”
  • “I looked it up on the Internet.”
  • “The drinks are on me tonight.”

Into vs. On: Comparing the Two Words

Here are a few similar examples that demonstrate when one word is better than the other.

  • “I put the vase on the fridge”—the vase is above and on the surface of the fridge, outside of it.


  • “I put the cheese into the fridge”—the cheese is now in, that is, inside, the fridge.
  • “The man has a house on the river”—the house is nearby, not literally on top of it.


  • “He dipped his head into the river”—his head went underneath the surface of the water.
  • “The animal feeds on insects”—the animal eats insects.


  • “The woman is really into insects”—she is interested in and perhaps studies insects.

Into vs. On Used Together Correctly

Here are some sentences that use into and on together.

  • “I turned on the light and peered into the basement.”
  • “We got on the boat and went into our cabin.”
  • “After we got into bed, we threw on some extra blankets.”
  • “With the pot still on the stove, the man put more noodles into the soup.”
  • On a sunny day, she enjoys jumping into the lake.”

Into vs. On: The Bottom Line

Here’s the bottom line:

  • Into suggests entering or placing something inside something else.
  • On suggests placing something on a surface or in contact with something else.

Now you have into and on sorted out, but are you still struggling with some other easily confused words? We have your back. Check out this article.

Need Help with Into, On, and More?

Getting these words right in your writing or speech is crucial for clear and effective communication. Many writers and content producers still occasionally trip up over these terms, which can result in content that confuses the reader or, even worse, makes them think you aren’t a credible source.
If you find it challenging to differentiate between these words or simply don’t want to worry about getting it wrong in the future, enlist EditorNinja’s professional editing services. We’ll ensure that your writing is clear, correct, and professional. Schedule a no-stress, no-risk, super-friendly discussion with our team to discuss your editing needs today!