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“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 at 11:52
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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:

into

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

(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/into)

through

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

(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/through)

  • 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? – luxury20041985 Mar 30 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 at 8:14
  • Then I don't see any substantial difference between these two prepositions here. – luxury20041985 Mar 30 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 at 8:30
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    I agree. I thought I meant the same. – user307254 Mar 30 at 9:34

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