Posted by: episystechpubs | December 18, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Onto vs. On to

‘Tis the season to be jolly! I have decorated my cubicle with a Festivus pole and covered a small tree at home with red balls and green ribbons. Usually at this time of year, I take you through the 12 Days of English and give you a gem of a countdown each day. This year, we are skipping that, and instead, I have a present for you.

Today I’m going to address a question I hear often:

What is the difference between onto and on to?

Here are a few simple rules, some examples, and a quiz—my gift to you! (The rules are from GrammarBook.com. The other things are from me. You’re welcome!)

Rule 1: In general, use onto as one word to mean “on top of,” “to a position on,” “upon.”

Examples:
Joe climbed onto the top of the dog house.
Before you come in, step onto the rug and wipe your feet.

Rule 2: Use onto when you mean “fully aware of,” “informed about.”

Examples:Don’t try to fool me; I’m onto your shenanigans.
When Steve realized Jana was onto his proposal plans, he canceled their date.

Rule 3: Use on to, two words, when on is part of the verb.

Examples:He couldn’t hang on to the rope any longer. (Hang on is a phrasal verb.)
Once you log on to the computer, you can do almost anything. (Log on is a phrasal verb.)

Quiz
1. Chad, I think climbing on to/onto that tree limb is a bad idea.
2. When I retire, I think I’ll go on to/onto take some art classes.
3. Adam stepped off the ladder on to/onto the flower bed.
4. Margaret realized her husband was on to/onto her plans to throw him a surprise party.

5. If you think it’s a good idea, we’ll move on to/onto the next step.

Quiz Answers
1. Chad, I think climbing onto that tree limb is a bad idea.
2. When I retire, I think I’ll go on to take some art classes.
3. Adam stepped off the ladder onto the flower bed.
4. Margaret realized her husband was ontoher plans to throw him a surprise party.
5. If you think it’s a good idea, we’ll move on to the next step.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services


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