General Writing and Grammar Help/Onto & on to


Dear Ted:

Which of the following sentences is correct?

1) It is illegal to back out of your garden ON TO the road.

2) It is illegal to back out of your garden ONTO the road.

Thank you very much for your kind help.


Dear Paolo:

Use this guide for help:

On to vs. Onto

Rule 1: In general, use onto as one word to mean on top of, to a position on, upon. Use onto if you can use up before on.

He climbed (up) onto the roof.
Letís step onto the dance floor.
She held on to her child in the crowd. (She did not hold up her child.)
Iím going to log on to the computer.

Rule 2: Use onto when you mean fully aware of; informed about.

Example: We canceled Juliaís surprise party when we realized she was onto our plan.

*** If you feel comfortable with "back out of your garden UP onto the road," then use "onto."

My personal reading is that you would NOT be backing your car UP out of the garden in order to reach the road.  Therefore, I would choose "on to the road."  Two words, not one.


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Ted Nesbitt


I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.


I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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