When I write with a native speaker, she used the phrase "onto the shelf". Are they any differences between these two sentences? I feel like "onto" is a slang or something... Please explain me this issue.

I put something onto the shelf.


I put something on the shelf.

1 Answer 1


In the given examples, it would be difficult to decide which word goes there.

We generally use 'onto' when we talk about the direction to move because it contains 'to'. Say,

The jockey jumped onto the horse.

We are talking about the jockey who is moving toward the horse to sit on it.

On the other hand, when there is no movement, we generally see 'on'.

The book is on the table.

In your example, you are putting something. Now, the 'put' verb itself talks about the movement so I feel both are correct.

Let's wait for native speakers' input.

  • 3
    Both can work, depending on the sentence. Compare: she put it into/in the cupboard. But shoved ... into and stored ... in sound like better pairs.
    – Lawrence
    Jun 29, 2017 at 9:29

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