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"I'll show you to your room" means I'll take you to your room. The question is: Can "to" be replaced by "into"?

I have done a quick search and found out that "show someone into" is uncommon and it wasn't clear whether they are equal.

My guess though is that "into" takes someone inside the room. But if so still what is the difference? Is there something special about entering the room with them?


Edit: Macmillan's entry for show, gives this sense, 5:

[transitive] to lead someone somewhere, for example because they do not know where to go

show someone to something:

Let me show you to your room.

show someone into something:

She showed me into a sunny room where two children were playing.

A quick search on Google books, gives me this sentence from "Jack Archer" By G. A. Henty:

Two servants will show you into your carriage.

I can get by the set phrase but it is the curiosity while I am at it.

  • In examples of "show someone into" that you found, was there any specific pattern or usage? – user3169 Oct 31 '14 at 20:37
  • 1.) The "to" version means that someone will take you at least near to your room, perhaps right to its door, or even into the room itself -- "to" is the usual phrase that is used. If you are at a hotel, then the person will try to get both of you into that room so that you'll feel obligated to give a tip. 2.) The "into" version means that the person really wants to take you into the room (so that you'll feel forced to give a tip, perhaps). – F.E. Oct 31 '14 at 20:57
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    Your cited G. A. Henty usage is highly unlikely to mean the servants will actually get in the carriage themselves. But using into rather than plain to (or no preposition at all) strongly implies that they'll open the door for you (and help steady you as you get in, if appropriate). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 31 '14 at 21:16
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Native speakers simply wouldn't normally say "I'll show you into to your room". The two credible possibilities are...

1: "I'll show you to your room"
Appropriate in contexts where the offer is to help you find your way to the room, or simply to act as a "protective escort". The speaker might reasonably leave as soon as you're within sight of the door.

2: "I'll show you your room"
Appropriate in contexts where the offer is to accompany you into the room, perhaps to point out anything that might not be obvious (where the light switches are, how to operate the minibar if it's a hotel room, etc.)

In practice, both contexts often apply simultaneously, and either of the above phrasings could be both intended and understood as implying the other.


For reasons that aren't immediately obvious to me, although I've said into is unlikely in OP's exact context (with a room), it seems perfectly normal to me to...

3: "Show him into the garden"
...which carries no particular implications of presenting the garden - just going with him to get there.


EDIT: In informal contexts such as a guest staying overnight at your house, #2 above (no preposition) is the normal form. In formal contexts (hotel staff, a wealthy person's house-servants, etc.) to is more common, carrying either/both implications of guiding and/or escorting.

The relative uncommon into (almost always formal) implies the speaker will accompany you through the entrance (door, gate, etc.) to wherever you're going, and assist you in "settling in". Thus, anyone showing you into the garden would usually accompany you into the garden and introduce you to your host and/or other guests. If a hotel manager shows you to the dining room, he might well just leave you at the doorway - but if he shows you into the room, he'll probably usher you to a table and see that you're seated before leaving you in the care of the restaurant staff.

  • I can see why "into the garden" is okay. It's not a private place. Sometimes some guidance is welcome in this situation. The curiosity is out of uncommon use of "into" and the example of "the carriage" from Google books that makes into and to look like the same at first. – learner Oct 31 '14 at 21:15
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I'll show you to your room

You would generally show someone to somewhere which is about to become their private domain, so you are specifically offering to show them where it is (so they don't get lost) without implicitly inviting yourself in. eg showing a guest to a room.

I'll show you my new bedroom

As FumbleFingers noted, you would typically otherwise just show someone something which is your domain or is public. You are typically offering to allow them to see your property escorted. Partly in acknowledgement that it's usually a private area of your own (eg your bedroom) or to show them something new or interesting. eg a new kitchen.

You would almost never show someone into something, which would almost imply waiting next to the door until you're sure they're inside, then leaving. It's redundant, and sounds almost slightly aggressive.

You may show someone out, implying escorting them off the premises. Either to ensure their leave or, more commonly, ensure they don't get lost on the way out and/or allow you to politely say goodbye at the threshold.

I think you've had too many to drink, mate, I'll show you out.

Unlike FumbleFingers, it sounds wrong to me to show somebody into the garden... I'd show them the garden, or show them to the garden, with the same rules as above.

  • +1 for mentioning "show someone out" and the clear & well organized answer. Your opinion about "into" is surprising. How do you explain Macmillan's dictionary use of "into" in "She showed me into a sunny room where two children were playing."? I checked the American version of the site and it had the same example. – learner Nov 1 '14 at 8:54
  • I understand from your answer that is rare "You would almost never show someone into something", but your opinion here "which would almost imply waiting next to the door until you're sure they're inside, then leaving" is contrary to what the dictionary states to say the least. Your comment would be appreciated. – learner Nov 1 '14 at 9:02
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    The dictionary example is certainly correct, but I've never heard it used - it's possible it's just not common in my region, however. English language use can be surprisingly different even within the UK. Again this may explain the nuance I see with the phrase – Jon Story Nov 1 '14 at 12:30

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