It’s unavoidable at this point! Whether it’s for school, work, banking, or just for fun, we’ve all created online accounts at some point.
But are we signing into these accounts or signing in to them? Read on to find out!
Sign Into or Sign In to – Which Is Correct?
“Sign in to” is the correct version of this phrase. “Sign in”, in the context of technology, is a phrasal verb meaning to enter one’s personal details to access an app or website. “Sign into” is simply the combination of the verb “sign” and the preposition “into”.
English has always been tricky, but new, ever-developing technology seems to only add to the problem. Understanding the difference between “sign in to” and “sign into” requires some understanding of everyday tech jargon.
Before we get into each, it’s worth unpacking what a “phrasal verb” is, since the phrase “sign in” falls into this category.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines a “phrasal verb” as “a phrase that consists of a verb with a preposition or adverb or both, the meaning of which is different from the meaning of its separate parts”.
Essentially, this means that a phrasal verb is made up of two words with distinct means that, when combined, mean something new. Consider this example:
- Show off
“Show” means a stage performance or to display something. “Off” means the opposite of “on”. Yet, when combined, this phrase means to behave in a way that is intended to attract attention.
Similarly, “sign” means to write one’s name or refers to a notice displaying information. “In” means the opposite of “out”. Yet, in the context of technology, “sign in” is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as meaning “to enter your personal details into a website, etc. so that you can use it”.
So, what’s the relevance of all this? And how do we know when to use “sign in to” instead of “sign into”? We’re getting there, so keep reading!
The phrase “sign into” is simply the combination of the verb or noun “sign” with the preposition “into”.
There are only a few contexts in which “sign into” can be used in a sentence. For example, this phrase can be used when a sign has transformed into something else:
- Banksy recently turned a parking sign into a priceless piece of art.
- I was sent a sign, and I turned that sign into a pursuit.
It can also be used when a sign is being placed inside something:
- I’m going to throw his sign into the bin if he’s not careful
- I’m going to pack the old “closed” sign into this box until we need it again.
- Tilt the sign into the light so that we can see it properly!
As you can see, the phrase “sign into” is not appropriate to use in the context of signing in to a website or app, which we will discuss further next.
Sign In to
In the context of technology, “sign in to” usually refers to accessing an app or website by entering your personal details into a virtual sign-in sheet. “Sign in” is a phrasal verb that has developed alongside new technology.
Let’s look at how this phrase can be used in a sentence:
- It’s asking me to sign in to my account, but I’ve forgotten the password!
- I’ll sign in to Google and check the drive to see if the files are there.
- She’ll have to sign in to her Outlook account, or she won’t be notified about the meetings scheduled for tomorrow.
- The stupid computer is telling me to sign in to Hotmail when I have a freaking Gmail account!
- You can sign in to my Apple account and listen to all my music there if you like.
Which Is Used the Most?
It’s probably no surprise that “sign into” is significantly more popular than “sign in to”, even to this day! A look at the Google Ngram Viewer tells us that the former phrase has been used far more frequently throughout time and has been used increasingly since the 1990s.
Up until around 1997, “sign in to” was barely used at all. It has since steadily increased in use, which isn’t surprising. Its use seems to follow from increased accessibility to the internet around the world.
Only time will tell whether “sign into” will maintain its winning position as the online realm becomes more mainstream.
This phrase has a greater opportunity for use in ordinary, everyday English. However, we doubt anyone would be surprised if it was eventually surpassed by the Goliath that is the online world.
“Sign in to” is the correct phrase to use for entering personal information into an online portal in order to access it. “Sign in” is a phrasal verb that has developed alongside technology. “Sign into” is simply an English phrase made up of the words “sign” and “into”.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.