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Which is more correct?

  1. I am going to classify these faults into 4 categories.
  2. I am going to classify these faults in 4 categories.
  3. I am going to classify these faults as 4 categories.

The last one makes the least sense to me. However, the first two are being used by a lot of people. Are both okay?

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What about "classify under"? –  Campiador Aug 8 at 16:07

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Into is the most common, and it makes the most sense, as you are (metaphorically) putting faults into boxes.

I am going to classify these faults into 4 categories.

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There are different flavors to each version.

I am going to classify these faults into 4 categories.

This is the most precise, and uses the word classify to mean "divide into classes"; it is what you would use if you were writing in a scientific or technical style.

I am going to classify these faults in 4 categories.

This is less precise, and uses in as one might use among. There is nothing wrong with stating the sentence in this way, but there is a sense that other categories may exist among which the faults could be distributed, but that the speaker may be making an arbitrary distinction.

I am going to classify these faults as 4 categories.

This one is really a poor construction, in my opinion. It equates faults with categories, or implies that a transformation may be made that turns faults into categories by the process of classification. It is inferior in logic and meaning to the other two. Your first choice is the best.

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I'm not sure if it's implicit in your text anyway, but it seems to me using "into" can more easily carry the implication that the categories themselves will be "defined" as part of the act of classification. Conversely, using "in" can imply that clear category definitions already exist (also, as you do say, that not all of them will necessarily be involved in the current process). –  FumbleFingers Nov 8 '12 at 22:18

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