- To is a preposition with several meanings, including “toward” and “until.”
- Too is an adverb that can mean “excessively” or “also.”
- Just to be clear: two is pronounced the same as to and too, but it can’t be used instead of either of them because it’s a number.
In the hierarchy of things that drive grammar sticklers mad, to and too are near the top. It’s very common to see them confused, abused, and misused, and not just in YouTube comments or on Reddit. People seem to mix up these two funny little words all over the place, and it’s something that can happen to anyone.
How to Use To
To is a preposition and a versatile little word that can be used to say many things. You can use it to indicate a goal or a direction of movement, as well as a place of arrival. That’s the way you use it when you say you’re going to class tomorrow. To also plays a role when we want to indicate that a verb is an infinitive.
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You’ll often use to when you want to indicate a relationship between words, relationship like possession, attachment, and addition. You get attached to people, you have things that belong to you. To is also used to indicate a range or a period of time, like when you say it will take you five to ten minutes to finish something.
There are other things for which we use the word to, but by now you should know enough of them to make sure you notice the difference between it and too.
How to Use Too
Too is also a useful little word, but it’s not a preposition like to, and it doesn’t have as many meanings. You can use it instead of “besides,” “in addition,” “also,” or “as well.” But you can use it for other things, too, like when you want to indicate excessiveness. If you find grammar tough, you can say that it’s too hard. In casual speech, speakers sometimes use too in the sense of “very”: That gal is too funny!
To, Too, and Two
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Apart from being spelled very similarly, to and too are pronounced the same—[too]. And there’s another word that’s also pronounced that way: the number two. We call words that share a pronunciation homophones, and if you take a look at any list of commonly confused words, you’ll find plenty of homophones on it. Words like there, their, and they’re, your and you’re, and bear and bare are up there, along with to, too, and two. It doesn’t matter whether the homophones have different meanings and uses or if they are in completely different word classes; we still mix them up.
The only way to fix this is to repeat over and over again what each of the homophones means so that people who don’t know it get the chance to learn. For those who know the difference, a few minutes of proofreading should fix the issue.
How to Remember the Difference Between To and Too
Since they are pronounced the same, you don’t have to worry about mixing up to and too in speech. It’s writing that creates problems. But there’s an easy way to make sure you’re using the correct word. Because to can be used in more ways than too, it’s easier to remember that too can be replaced with “also,” “very,” or “excessively.” If you’re not sure whether the to you’ve written should actually be a too, try replacing it with one of those substitutes. If it works, you’ve made a mistake. If it doesn’t, you’re good. You can do the same to make sure that your toos are indeed toos and not tos.
Examples of To vs. Too
Crucially the FCO stopped well short of advising against travel to France, which is the most popular holiday destination in the world (and the second-most popular, after Spain, for UK holidaymakers). —The Independent
Had David Cameron not won an election he never expected to win, he might not have lost a referendum he never expected to lose. —The Guardian
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Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale has announced his engagement to long-term girlfriend Emma Rhys-Jones. —The Daily Mirror
The African turquoise killifish has one of the shortest lifespans of all vertebrates: it reaches the ripe old age of only three to twelve months. —New Scientist
But from what we’ve seen in this tournament I think she meant it, too. —The Guardian
Chances are that too much information running through our small brains clouds our thinking, making it more difficult to do our jobs. —TechCrunch
On the other hand, given that these references are too obvious, they may have been intentionally included to insinuate a Kemalist junta rather than a Gulenist one. —BBC
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