More on the "onto" "on to" question: OED
second edition (1989):on to, onto, prep., a. A. prep1.
To a position on or upon (or one that is expressed by these preps.). (α) Written on to.On to, onto
… must be carefully distinguished, first, from a ME. onto
, a frequent scribal variant of unto
; and, secondly, from modern instances in which on
, as the extension of a vb., is followed by to
as a separate word, e.g. to walk on
to the next station, to flow on
to the sea, to hang on
to a party, to lead on
to another point; a ship lies broadside on
to the waves. Here the two words are no more connected than in up to, down to, out to, away to, back to, home to.
Some who write or print onto
have carelessly misused it in such connexions.
------------------------------Garner's Modern English Usage
(Fourth Edition, p 694):
Phrasal Verbs are verbs that comprise more than one word, often a verb and a preposition (acting as an adverbial particle).
Four caveats are in order with phrasal verbs.
Fourth, because phrasal verbs are idioms that give the main verb a unique spin, don’t compound the phrase’s particle or preposition with another preposition
—e.g.: “A2Z is incorporated in Idaho, a state where unclaimed-property laws do not specifically address gift cards, allowing Amazon.com to hang onto
[read hang on to
] unused value.” … Here, hang on
is the phrasal verb and
is the preposition that attaches to unused value. A similar problem crops up with phrases such as give in
[to] and brush up
------------------------------Lexico Usage Note: "Onto" Or "On To"?
The preposition onto
meaning ‘to a position on the surface of’ has been widely written as one word (instead of on to
) since the early 18th century, as in the following sentences:- He threw his plate onto the floor.
- The band climbed onto the stage.
Nevertheless, some people still don’t accept it as part of standard British English (unlike into) and it’s best to use the two-word form in formal writing.
In US English, onto
is more or less the standard form: it seems likely that this will eventually become the case in British English too. Remember, though, that you should never write on to as one word when it means ‘onwards and towards’.
- Let’s move on to
the next point. NOT: Let’s move onto
the next point.
- Those who qualify can go on to
university. NOTE: Those who qualify can go onto