Question: What kind of preposition should I use OR each of them is acceptable for different cases?

IN or/and INTO or/and '_'

  1. He turned into the red color

  2. He turned in the red color

  3. He turned red

2 Answers 2


He turned red.

We usually don't say "the red color" when we just mean "red". Slavic languages tend to do this, as in красный цвет.

In some cases, however, we might use it to mean "a particular shade of red":

When he became angry, he often turned a red color which reminded me of cherry tomatoes. It usually took five minutes after he'd calmed down before the red color went away.

Note that this isn't red in general, but a certain red.

Also, since "turn" is used as a copula verb, we don't need any preposition. Here are some examples of copula verb sentences, starting with one about color:

I was afraid to eat the cheese because it had turned greenish-blue.

She was so frightened that she looked white.

When she learned that Bob was now dating Shirley, she became green with envy.

("Green with envy" is a common metaphor.)

The sky looks dark gray.

  • 1
    You can, however, say "He turned into the colour red".
    – SteveES
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 13:49
  • 6
    I agree. If someone actually becomes the color itself, that makes sense. For example, if there's a myth about three gods and after creating the universe each one becomes a color, then you can say that they turned into the colors pink, purple, and chartreuse (or whatever), just as some myths describe characters turning into astronomical and geographical features.
    – Epanoui
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 15:14
  • @SteveES You can, but it wouldn't make any sense except in the odd case that Epanoui, which isn't really helpful for people who are trying to learn English
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 20:58
  • I think that I saw that in a phrasebook once. "Please get a doctor. I am turning into the color green. Please stop taking photographs."
    – Epanoui
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 22:16

The most common way of phrasing this would be option 3:

He turned red

  1. The phrase turned into is usually used to indicate a wholesale transformation of something, for example:

    He turned into a dragon


    As spring turned into summer ...

    You therefore can say He turned into the colour red. People would probably understand what you meant, but it would be an unusual way of phrasing it and people might think that "he" had transformed into an abstract concept, "the colour red". As Epanoui has already said, the red colour would not be used in this context, but the colour red can be.

    (As a side note, turned into can also be used to describe someone who is travelling, to say that they went into a particular place, e.g. "He turned into the driveway". For this case, however, you might want to split up "into" to be "in to" so it doesn't sound like you're saying that they transformed themselves into the driveway...)

  2. The phrase turned in has a different meaning to the one you want. It either means:

    to go to bed:

    He turned in for the night.

    Or to give something to someone:

    He turned in his exam paper.

  • 1
    The most common usage of "turn in" that I come across (British English) is to turn in a criminal (i.e., take them to the police) and, most often, the police encouraging criminals to "turn themselves in". Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 15:57
  • @DavidRicherby Yep, absolutely, although I would argue that that has the same meaning as "to give something to someone", just that the "something" is a "someone".
    – SteveES
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 16:02
  • I agree that it's the same meaning; it just seems to be a more common example. Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 16:11
  • @DavidRicherby In the US, the example SteveES gives is probably the most common use (school work and tests given to the teacher/professor); I'm just curious, how would that be said in the UK? SteveES, I wonder if there's a nuance of giving something to someone in authority? Other common examples I can think of include turn in your badge (e.g. in maverick cop movies), turn in a found item to the lost-and-found, turn in paperwork, turn in the hotel key when you check out, etc.
    – 1006a
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 20:41
  • @1006a In the UK, it would be more common to "hand in" rather than "turn in" work. I think by definition, "turning/handing in" is to a person/body of authority over the handee.
    – SteveES
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 21:55

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