Student or Learner
I'm not sure if I should use 'onto' or 'on to' in this sentence. To me, both sound very possible.
When these strong waves crashed on to the beach, they could have returned back into the sea with enough force to carry some of these large rocks out into the open water.
I know 'on to' refers to a separate adverb and preposition, versus just a preposition for the former. Can anyone help me on which one is more appropriate?
I'd go for onto here. And there are cases where I would use on to- we're going to move on to the next topic, for instance.
I would use "onto" here too. I would say that "onto" usually describes a physical movement of a person or object from one location to another physical location.
The waves crashed onto the beach.
The avalanche crashed onto the roof of the hotel.
The tree fell onto his car.
I'm moving on to a new job.
He's moved on to a career in television.
I do not disagree with emsr2d2, Allen165, Raymott or Tdol.
You will, however, encounter aged luddites such as fivejedjon who believe that onto should always be written as two words. They may have been written as one word as long ago as 1581, but that, for 5jj, is fairly recent. .
If you really want to write them as one word, then re-read posts #3, 4 and 5.
I'm a native speaker and I write for a living, and I *still* struggle with "onto" and "into." My basic rule is that if it shows the direction of something that is moving, you can use the single-word version.
Even then, I'm not confident.
For example, the girl ran into the house, slamming the door shut behind her.
The car ran off the road, through the thick hedges, and into the house, causing significant damage.
Clearly the car did not enter the house (more than a couple inches, anway). Is it still "into"?
(I'm not really looking for the answer -- just trying to show you that you're not alone in having a hard time with this.)
I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.
However, it's worth understanding the phonology, so that after you've chosen the right variant you pronounce it properly:
in Br Eng (I'm not sure about other variants) -
'onto' - /`ɒntǝ/ or /`ɒntʊ/ (depending on the following sound)
'on to' - /ɒn tu:/
/`ɒntǝ/ - in, for example, 'the cat jumped onto the table'
/`ɒntʊ/ - in, for example, 'the cat jumped onto each table'
/ɒn tu:/ - in, for example, 'Keep right on to the end of the road'