I have a sentence I'm writing where I describe making a turn, as I run, into an empty alleyway. Here is how I would like to say it:

I turn into a lonely lane...

The problem I find is that it may mean that I am changing my direction to run into a lane, or it may suggest that I am becoming a lane -- however unlikely that may be, realistically.

Is there a better way to write the sentence without disrupting the flow of my writing? (I understand that I can say, "I make a turn into a lonely lane..." but am afraid that that might cause some incontinuity.)

For example, could I say this?

I turn in to a lonely lane...

  • If you don't like the transformational aspect of "turn into," you are certainly free to use "turn in to" instead. Some readers may pause to wonder why you didn't write "in to" as a single word, but probably no greater number than may pause when they see "into" and think that you've inadvertently implied a transformation. The same rule of "Suit yourself" that protects writers who might otherwise bend over backward to satisfy the usage qualms of others also protects the preferences of writers who have usage qualms of their own. – Sven Yargs Jun 26 '14 at 22:04

It being a street you would probably want to say "I turn onto a lonely lane." You would say onto rather than into regardless of confusion, whether you are walking or driving, as a street is something one walks on.

I can't find a good reference to back me, but here are people who agree: random Internet link of questionable usefulness

If you actually use "alley" instead of lane you could use into and it wouldn't seem as confusing (see comments).

  • 1
    Why onto instead of into? "School bus turned into the wrong lane, says family". "Turned into the wrong lane" gets about 237,000 results; "turned onto the wrong lane" gets 531. Please explain? – anongoodnurse Jun 26 '14 at 21:07
  • I don't think it's a hard rule by any means (though in the case you refer to I would have written onto). And if you were using the word "alley" instead of "lane" it would probably be into, as alley infers that you are going into a space. As for "lane," it is probably an in-between case, and the OP says it is an "alleyway". If he uses "into an alley," this is used often enough that this would probably remove any confusion. – JackArbiter Jun 26 '14 at 21:12
  • 1
    @medica In reference to the revision of your comment, lane is also used as a reference to the "lanes" of a highway, in which one would always use "into." – JackArbiter Jun 26 '14 at 21:16
  • You stated "...whether you are walking or driving, as a street is something one walks on." I am refuting that. I am also inviting you to strengthen your position by adding examples of your use. Make your case! Your answer will be better for it. You need not backtrack or acquiesce. Just support your claim. :-) – anongoodnurse Jun 26 '14 at 21:26
  • 2
    @medica. Lane is being used to refer to an alleyway, the search examples you found were likely mostly in reference to lanes on a highway. You drive in a lane on a highway, I'm not sure if you treat lane the same way when it's describing the whole road rather than just a subsection of it. – Dave Magner Jun 26 '14 at 21:27

One possible solution is to avoid both in to and into by substituting the equally idiomatic down:

I turn down a lonely lane.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.