Which is the correct sentence? Why?

  1. It's the first time he has been in space.
  2. It's the first time he has been to space.
  • I can't recall many examples, but I assume it's always to. In this case, "to" is more sensible too. Or I can say "I've never been to Vancouver, but they say it's fancy". – M.A.R. Jan 25 '15 at 20:38
  • Are you interested in this in general, or about space in specific? (That's kind of a unique case.) – mattdm Jan 26 '15 at 2:40
  • I wanna know the difference between been in and to in general and in specific also – user37421 Jan 26 '15 at 8:47

Both are acceptable and the choice must be made based on whether you wish to emphasize the rocket flight to space or the experience of being in space.

In other words if he made the comment, "This thing feels like it's going to fall apart any second, I'm getting nervous." I might comment to my fellow astronauts, "Heh, you can tell that this is the first time he's been to space."

But if we were in the space station and he made the comment, "I keep feeling like I'm going to vomit. When does it stop?" I might comment to my fellow astonauts, "Heh, you can tell that this is the first time he's been in space."

  • Not necessarily, but usually. Time for some music... – Magoo Jan 26 '15 at 0:30
  • Probably worth pointing out on a language site: This things feels appears incorrectly in one of your quotes. – Eric Jan 26 '15 at 1:23

Both are correct but in my experience He has been to space would be used more often. I would usually understand space to be a destination (rather than a medium). If you said He has been in space I might think you were talking about a space walk - he has gone outside the spaceship into space. Think of the difference between going to the sea and going in the sea. With space you have to do both at the same time.

To summarise you go to a destination but you go in or into a substance, medium, building, vehicle, enclosed space, etc. Some words like space and kitchen can be either depending on the sentence. He went to the kitchen, now he's in the kitchen. You might say He went into the kitchen but you'd be unlikely to say He went in the kitchen. It's not wrong, it's just not used that much.

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