Grammar Tips & Articles »

In vs. Inn

In vs. Inn” are probably one of the more complex and hard to explain similar words in English. In this case, the confusion is not due to a spelling similarity between them- the fact that "Inn" has exactly the same form and sounds exactly as "in", with a double "n"; rather because the former is actually one of the most commonly-used and complex English words.

5:24 min read
  Charlotte B  —  Grammar Tips
Font size:

So in order to give you a better idea of how common "in" is and how often it is used with multiple and distinct meanings in English phrases, let's explain both "in" and "inn" with relevant examples!

In vs. Inn

If things start nice and simply with "inn", which is a common English noun, mostly used in previous decades and rarely used nowadays, they start to get more complicated when we come to the word "in". Even more common in English than "inn", present in almost any phrase, the word is used with several different roles in every sentence: from connecting several parts of speech, to showing a location or to describe something fashionable. "In" is one of the most versatile English words despite the fact that it's one of the shortest. So without further adieu, let's start to explain its functions and meanings.

When do we use "in"?

The reason why we call "in" one of the most versatile words in English is because the word can function in several different ways in sentences. It can be a preposition (and this is also its main role), but it can also appear as an adverb, adjective, noun and even written abbreviation. Let's examine the, one at a time.

As a preposition, "in" indicates the location inside a place, area or container. “In” could refer to a certain point of focus, a certain role, group, period or place in time or state of mind. It can also replace "wearing" or it may refer to something expressed, written or arranged in a certain way. "In" can also mean experiencing a particular condition or emotion.

"In" may also be used as an adverb. In this case, it may appear when referring to the location of something, moving into an area or space from the outside of it. It may also mean the location or place where someone works or lives usually, or it may even define that a means of transport (train/plane etc.) has arrived to the location where it was supposed to be. Further, the word can refer to something submit or given to a person with official function, in order to be read; and, lastly, "in" is also used to describe the location when a boat, a ship or even the sea moves close towards land.

Informally, "in" may also be used as an adjective. In this case, it describes something fashionable or popular at a certain point.

As noun, "in", defines the details of a particular subject.

And, lastly, "in" can simply represent the abbreviation for the length measuring unit called inch.

Example 1: There are lots of vegetables in the fridge. - "in" is a preposition indicating the location inside a container.

Example 2: They are traveling to London in June. - here, "in" means "during" a certain period of time. 

Example 3: She completed all her tasks in only two hours. - "in" indicates the time needed to complete something, no more than a certain amount of time.

Example 4: Do you know who the man in the painting is? - "in" can also refer to a part of something.

Example 5: The writer is starting a great career in journalism. - "in" means being involved in a specific job

Example 6: All students will obtain a degree in business administration this year. - here, "in" is used to indicate the certain connection to a particular subject.

Example 7: Find the woman in black and she will tell you what to do next. - "in" replaces "wearing".

Example 8: Let's speak in English. - "in" can also refer to expressing something in a certain way.

In vs. Inn

Example 9: Please arrange these names in alphabetical order. - it can also refer to things arranged in a particular way.

Example 10: They watched the entire scene in terror. - nonetheless, the preposition "in" may also be used with the meaning of experiencing a certain emotion.

Example 11: Open the lid of the box and put your shoes in. - as an adverb, "in" indicates the location of something moving inside a space from the outside of it.

Example 12: I went to her home to see her, but she wasn't in. - it may also appear when referring to the space where someone usually lives.

Example 13: Her train will get in at 5p.m. - when referring to means of transport, "in" shows that that means of transport has arrived to its destination.

Example 14: All applications must be in by the 1st of April. - "in" can mean "sent" to an official person in order to be read.

Example 15: The ship is coming in at 8p.m. - lastly, "in" functions as an adverb referring to the moment when the sea or a ship gets closer towards the land.

Example 16: Black hats are in this season. - as an adjective, "in" is informally used as synonym for "fashionable".

Example 17: The most important ins and outs of this product are specified in this document. - "in" can also function as a noun, in this case referring to some essential detail of a product.

Example 18: The ruler is 15in. long. - "in" may appear as the abbreviation for "inches”.

When do we use "inn"?

If the complexity and multitude of meanings and values that "in" has in English phrases seemed overwhelming, the good news is that everything gets a lot easier with "inn". This is an old noun, mainly used in historical contexts to define a house or a building that provided accommodation, drinks and food, especially for travelers.

Today, an "inn" typically defines some kind of a tavern, a pub that is typically unique in the countryside and where people can find food, drink, and sometimes even accommodation.

Example: We stayed at an amazing inn in Mexico. - "inn" is an English noun defining a house providing accommodation, food and drink.


Once you start practicing speaking in English, reading books and other materials in this language, you will start to use "in" intuitively. Despite the complex explanations and meanings that it carries, the word is easy to remember and integrates into phrases naturally, without your needing to overthink it every time. You will soon realize that it's not that complicated. As for "inn", the word should never be confused for "in", as it always functions as a noun with a simple meaning that we just explained above

Rate this article:

Have a discussion about this article with the community:



    Use the citation below to add this article to your bibliography:


    "In vs. Inn." STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 18 Jun 2024. <>.

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Check your text and writing for style, spelling and grammar problems everywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Check your text and writing for style, spelling and grammar problems everywhere on the web!


    Free Writing Tool:

    Grammar Checker

    Improve your grammar, vocabulary, and writing -- and it's FREE!


    Are you a grammar master?

    Identify the sentence with correct use of the present simple tense:
    A They have been singing all night.
    B She had finished her book last week.
    C She always takes the bus to work.
    D We will have completed the project by Monday.

    Improve your writing now:

    Download Grammar eBooks

    It’s now more important than ever to develop a powerful writing style. After all, most communication takes place in reports, emails, and instant messages.