incautiously held it upright, whereupon the tobacco fell out ON TO the floor (George Orwell, 1984. Page #8)

Additional information:

I know that when we describe some movement (e.g. into the room, onto the bus, onto the shelf, onto the bed) we always should use preposition of movement (into, onto etc)


Why is 'on' separated with 'to' in the sentence

  • 3
    It should be: fell out onto the floor. The editor might have missed it. And it's not JOHN Orwell, it's: ***George Orwell", for the book called 1984.
    – Lambie
    Apr 4, 2017 at 16:42
  • 1
    Mistakes happen, this looks nothing more than that. Have you seen any other example like that in a more... "professional" context which would indicate that it's not a typo?
    – Korvin
    Apr 4, 2017 at 19:15
  • @ Korvin there's the only case like this that I've ever met
    – Max
    Apr 4, 2017 at 19:19

1 Answer 1


Short answer: it's fine either way: onto or on to.

This usage note by Oxford Dictionaries should clarify it.

‘Onto’ or ‘on to’?

The preposition onto meaning ‘to a position on the surface of’ has been widely written as one word (instead of on to) since the early 18th century, as in the following sentences:

He threw his plate onto the floor.
The band climbed onto the stage.

Nevertheless, some people still don’t accept it as part of standard British English (unlike into) and it’s best to use the two-word form in formal writing.

In US English, onto is more or less the standard form: it seems likely that this will eventually become the case in British English too. [...]

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