“Locals chiseled the Guoliang Tunnel into — and through —the side of a mountain.”

From https://www.thisisinsider.com/guoliang-tunnel-built-into-mountain-2015-12

What is the difference between “into” and “through” in this context?

I understand that "through" means go into on one side and get out on the other. Yet, I still fail to see the difference between these two prepositions in relation to the side of the mountain.

How would a native speaker picture the scenes if I say "into the side" and "through the side"?

  • "Into" means "into". "Through" means "through". I can dig a hole straight down into the earth, but the hole is unlikely to go through the earth. And I can tunnel 5 feet into a mountain, but I likely have to go a mile or so to get through it.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 30, 2019 at 11:52

1 Answer 1


The meaning of 'through' is wider than that of 'into'. We can say that 'through' semantically includes 'into'.

Compare the following entries from Merriam-Webster's Dictionary:


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



—used as a function word to indicate movement into at one side or point and out at another and especially the opposite side of 


  • 1
    Thanks for your reply. If a tunnel is carved through the side of a mountain, it goes out of the side of the mountain on the other side. If a tunnel is carved into the side of mountain, it doesn't go out on the other side. Simple as that? Mar 30, 2019 at 7:40
  • Here's another meaning of 'through' from MERRIAM-WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY: ''as to make a hole or opening in (a physical object)''. It shows that the 'getting out' is optional.
    – user307254
    Mar 30, 2019 at 8:14
  • Then I don't see any substantial difference between these two prepositions here. Mar 30, 2019 at 8:18
  • I think there is some difference: 'into' doesn't mean the result of 'getting into' (a hole, cave, tunnel, etc.), but 'through' does. 'Into' just inform us about the fact of 'entering'. I agree, the difference can be very little in some cases.
    – user307254
    Mar 30, 2019 at 8:30
  • 1
    I agree. I thought I meant the same.
    – user307254
    Mar 30, 2019 at 9:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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