When you put something into a place or into an object, you "fill" it.
- The server filled my glass with water.
- You should fill your gas tank soon. It’s almost empty.
- Fill it up? (This question is often used at gas stations when the attendant asks you if you want to a full tank of gas.)
- I filled my bowl with cereal.
- His pockets are filled with change.
- The auditorium is filled with people.
When the word "fill" is used with the preposition "in" or "out," it describes the action of writing something on a form or on empty lines:
- You have to fill out this form with personal information. (You need to provide your name, address, phone number, etc.)
- John filled out an application.
- Sarah filled out an entry form for a contest.
- Make sure you fill in all the blanks on the test. (You have to provide answers on blank lines.)
- I forgot to fill in a few blanks on an online form, so it was rejected.
"Fill in" is an idiom that means to provide information:
- What’s the problem? Can you fill me in?
- Please fill him in on how to operate this machine.
- Our supervisor filled us in on the new health care program at work.
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First published on March 3, 2012.