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Q: Is there a difference in meaning between those two sentences?

I went in knowing that no matter what happened...

I went into this knowing that no matter what happened...

(my understanding: I approached this [experience] knowing that...)

I feel like that those two mean a similar thing but I can't confirm that with any source online...

  • 1
    They do mean very similar things, but you asked your dictionaries for definitions too narrow. How could “”I went in knowing…” and “I went into this knowing that…” be comparable? Either way, you went in(to) this knowing that what happened… Broadly, your dictionaries should have told you the difference is that “in” is purely about where you end up, while “into” necessarily includes where you started from. I went in through the door… I went into the building from the courtyard… – Robbie Goodwin Dec 8 '18 at 21:16
  • Thanks for the explanation and correction. Sorry to bother you, but I still don't know how to apply this information to those sentences. May I ask you to address meaning of those two cases “”I went in knowing…” and “I went into this knowing that…” separately please? – Aduku Dec 9 '18 at 12:33
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The main distinction between in and into is that there is implied movement with into. You cannot be "into" a place, but you can move into it. In colloquial English, "in" can be substituted in many cases. You could say "I went in the room," although "I went into the room" would be more accurate.

(English no longer has the concept of direction and motion that used be present in the language: here, hence, and hither meant "in this place," "from this place," and "to this place," respectively; likewise there/thence/thither and where/whence/whither. Some other languages maintain this distinction: e.g., in Russian, the use of где / куда / откуда is mandatory, and Swedish distinguishes between var and vart. But hence, whither, etc. has disappeared from Modern English, except in certain set phrases.)

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  • Thanks for the answer, but it doesn't make it clearer for me. What do you mean by that specifically in ”I went in knowing that…” and “I went into this knowing that…”? What's the difference between their meanings? – Aduku Dec 9 '18 at 12:41
  • @Aduku There's no difference in the meaning. – Mike Harris Dec 9 '18 at 14:50
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The first one suggests going into a physical place - a room, a meeting, a bank, etc.

The second one suggests going into something that is not a physical place - a relationship, a situation, an agreement.

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They mean exactly the same thing. I'm not sure which dictionary you're using, but from M-W online:

into

used as a function word to indicate entry, introduction, insertion, superposition, or inclusion

The thing you're entering doesn't have to be a physical space but can also be an activity or circumstance.

or

in

used as a function word to indicate inclusion, location, or position within limits

Again, it simply means to enter something. There may be certain connotations about what you're entering based on the context--when a soldier on the battlefield says she's going, it means she's going to engage with the enemy--but there are no restrictions on the contexts these phrases can be used in.

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