"To point at", "to point to" and "to point towards" are frequent phrases in dictionaries with the verb "point".

But there are also two other phrases: "to point in" and "to point into".
I'd like to find out when we can use them:
When can we use "to point in"?
When can we use "to point into"?

"To point at" — I think I kind of understand it.
But I can't understand what is the difference between the other phrases.
To figure it out, I prepared some examples:

(1) pointed into the sky
my variants:
(1a) pointed to the sky
(1b) pointed towards the sky
(1c) pointed in the sky
What is the difference between (1), (1a), (1b) and (1c)?

(2) She pointed in the direction of the car park.
my variants:
(2a) She pointed to the direction of the car park.
(2b) She pointed towards the direction of the car park.
(2c) She pointed into the direction of the car park.
What is the difference between (2), (2a), (2b) and (2c)?

  • 1
    It's a bit weird to point towards the direction of X, and pointing into the direction of X is completely non-idiomatic. If you can see X, you just point to X or ...at X. If you can't see it, you either point towards X or point in the direction of X. Jul 26 at 12:34
  • 1
    ... you can only point into X if X is some kind of container / enclosed space, OR something "amorphous" or "abstract", such as pointing into the darkness. Jul 26 at 12:40
  • @FumbleFingers you say "to point into X" where X is some kind of container or enclosed space. Could you give me please some examples so that I will understand what you mean?
    – Loviii
    Jul 26 at 13:21
  • pointed into is wrong here. All these are different questions.
    – Lambie
    Jul 26 at 13:54
  • 1
    Have a look at Google Books matches for He pointed into the... Actual "containers" on the first page there include hole, bathroom, tunnel, and cylindrical object. Plus "amorphous" or "abstract" referents such as distance and dark. Plus there's He pointed into the valley and ...into the water, where the specific choice of into rather than to or at tells us he's interested in something inside the valley, the water, or whatever. Jul 26 at 15:58

1 Answer 1


There isn't really a phrase point in. In your sentence 2, the phrase is in the direction of which means the same as towards, so 2b should be She pointed towards the car park. 2a doesn't really mean anything. I see that the American Heritage Dictionary also defines that sense of into as in the direction of, so She pointed into the car park would probably mean that she was standing near the boundary of the car park and pointing towards the middle of it.

  • Can we use the verb "point to" instead of "point towards"? For example: "She pointed to the car park" instead of "She pointed towards the car park." Thanks.
    – Loviii
    Jul 27 at 10:41
  • You point to something to identify it. "I've left my car there" she said, pointing to the car park. You point towards something to indicate direction. "He went that way" she said, pointing towards the car park. Jul 27 at 12:04

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