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Which of these three sentences is correct?

He snuck a souvenir into his shirt.

He snuck a souvenir under his shirt.

He snuck a souvenir inside his shirt.

  • Shirts don't really have an "inside", though in would be OK. – user3169 Jul 18 '16 at 16:53
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    @user3169 - Shirts don't have an inside? That's news to me and the many authors that have used the phrase "inside his shirt". – stangdon Jul 18 '16 at 17:33
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    @Fizza, Any of your proposed prepositions is correct. However, there is still controversy concerning the past tense of the verb "to sneak." Although "snuck" is heard frequently in the United States, it is not considered standard usage elsewhere. In formal or business usage, it is usually better to use "sneaked." – P. E. Dant Jul 18 '16 at 17:38
  • @stangdon You can use "inside", but it really means "under". Interesting several of these are about 'her touching him inside his shirt'. Guess I'm reading the wrong books. – user3169 Jul 18 '16 at 17:39
  • Many people would say that snuck is "dialectal, slangy", so to them it probably wouldn't make much difference which preposition you used (any preference on that front would be less than their preference for sneaked, or perhaps a different verb, such as slipped, secreted, hid). – FumbleFingers Jul 18 '16 at 17:44
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All are possible, but they mean slightly different things.

  • I would use "into" if he was sneaking the item into his shirt from the front/neck (as with a shirt that buttons).
  • I would use "under" if he was sneaking it up under the hem of the shirt.
  • "Inside" sounds to me as if he had already hidden a souvenir in his shirt (alongside his body) and was trying to sneak it somewhere, but in that case I would expect a phrase indicating where he was sneaking the souvenir: "He snuck the souvenir out of the shop inside his shirt."

Some examples, that I think make these distinctions clearer (emphases mine):

With a sly grin, the girl tucked the money into her blouse. —The Patriot Paradox by William Esmont

She stuffed the pillow under her shirt and examined her profile in an attempt to see what she'd look like fat with a baby. —Enchanged Heart by Felicia Mason

Before he walked in the boardinghouse, he tucked the small puppy inside his shirt. —Timberlake by Grey Stone

Note that in the third example (inside) it's unclear whether he tucks the puppy in from the top or the bottom; what's emphasized is where the puppy ends up.

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'Inside' and 'into' both imply, to me, that you are sneaking something into the fibers of the shirt fabric. They're not incorrect grammatically, and if you said them someone would know what you meant, but 'under' is probably the best choice here.

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