Learn English – “Split in” vs “split into”


In the sentence

I have a bibliography page which I'd like to split in/into sections

which would you rather use: split in or split into?


Best Answer

There's not really a "grammatical" justification for the choice, but idiomatically, we almost always use "into" with "sections"...

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...whereas with "half", for example (there aren't many such examples), it's the other way around

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In fact, apart from "half" I'm not sure there's any other split you can make where "into" isn't preferred. If you compare split in/into two, the preference isn't quite so marked - but that's probably influenced by the unusual usage with "half". As you go to bigger numbers, the preference for "into" is overwhelmingly reasserted.

For a (weak) justification of the idiomatic preference for split into over split in, I suggest that in numerous "compound verbs" (lapse into a coma, descend into chaos, developed into full-blown AIDS, etc.), the "into" component strongly associates with "transformation" of the primary subject.

That association very much involves the "sub-component "to", which can pass muster on its own in things like turn to stone, bring to focus, etc.. With those, you can get away with "into", but you couldn't possibly use "in".

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