We are going to McDonald’s at two. Is Jacob coming too?
These homophones are enough to drive language learners mad. Even native speakers sometimes have a problem using them correctly. Homophones sound the exact words but have different meanings and are spelled differently. On a scale of 1 – 10, to and too rank an 11.5 of the most commonly confused, misused, and abused words. Phew! But not anymore! In this article, we’ll learn the difference between ‘to’ and ‘too’ and how you can use them correctly. Before you know it, even grammar sticklers would have nothing on you! Read on to learn how to master these homophones.
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Let’s dive into the exciting world of grammar! First, we have to establish the difference between the words:
- ‘To’ is a preposition – words used before nouns to show position – that could mean different things. The word could mean ‘until,’ and it can also mean ‘toward.’
- ‘Too,’ on the other hand, is a different class of words known as an adverb. Adverbs are words that modify verbs. ‘Too’ can mean ‘also’ and ‘excessive.’
As we already established, ‘to’ is a preposition that can be used in several ways in English grammar. The word can be indicative of a direction of movement, a goal, and a place of arrival. Yes! All these for a simple two-letter comment – talk about power-packed! These are some of the most common uses. ‘To’ is used as a place of arrival when you say you are headed to the mall.
If you thought that was it, you were wrong. There’s more! ‘To’ is also used to indicate that a verb is in its infinitive form, e.g., to dance, to be, to have, to hold, etc. it is also used to show the relationship between two words. We commonly used it with words such as possession, addition, and attachment. For example, “she got attached to Paul over spring break.”
You’ll often see the word used to indicate a period or a range. For example, ‘4 to 7 hours. The word can also be used when telling time. If the minutes fall between 31-and 59, we use “To.” For instance, “the time is 10 minutes to 2”.
There are many other ways we can use the word. You can learn more about that by booking lessons with a professional instructor on italki.
Now let’s move on to our same-sounding friend, too. This word is easier to master since it doesn’t have a gazillion meanings like the preposition “to.” For one, “too” is not a preposition; we can use it as an adverb and intensifier. In the place of “besides,” “as well,” “in addition,” and “also,” too can be used.
As an intensifier, it is indicative of excessiveness. Here, we placed the word in front of an adjective. For example, “the ride was too long,” “Peter is too tall.” When speaking informally, we sometimes use the word to replace “very,” e.g., “you are too dull.”
These could also be the three musketeers of homophones, enough to drive a learner off the edge. If you’ve read up till here, you are well on your way to becoming a pro. “Two” is the third addition to this trio. These words are all pronounced the same, and they are very easy to mix up. Even native speakers make this mistake, so you are not alone. “Two” is simple. It is just a number. So if you want to write out the number 2, this is the one you used.
Suppose you have understood the difference between these words, then a little proofreading would help when communicating via text. You may have missed a thing or two when writing.
In the speech, they all sound the same, so no trouble there. The issue is recognizing the difference between to and too when writing. That is what creates problems for most learners. Here is a tip to make sure you know when to use what:
Too has fewer meanings. It is easier to remember to replace the word with – also, excessively, and very. When writing, try replacing “to” with any of the synonyms of “too” to check if you have written the correct word. If the alternative doesn’t fit in the context, then you have written the right thing. If it does, then you were wrong. For example:
- I am going to the mall at 8 pm
Try replacing “to” with “also,” “very,” or “excessively” – synonyms of “too.”
- I am going also/very the mall at 8 pm.
It doesn’t make any sense! You got the word correct!
- It is too late to go out.
Try replacing “too” with “very” or excessively”
- It is excessively late to go out.
There you go! This tip works like a charm! For more intelligent ways to remember the difference between “to” and “too,” set goals for learning English with a teacher online at italki. They will guide you and ensure you get your toos and tos right.
The best way to learn English vocabulary is by practice and you’ll get a ton of that with dedicated instructors at Italki. Below are some examples of where to and too have been used differently. These should help you master the difference and usage.
“To” used in sentences:
- Have you traveled to France before?
- He was not brave enough to oppose the priest’s decision.
- Mary loves to dance.
- James stood next to the bin.
- To be or not to be, that is the question
“Too” used in sentences:
- I get too attached too quickly.
- It’s too obvious she’s repulsed by him.
- I can’t make the trip. It is too long a walk for my weak knees.
- Everybody is mad at me. Not you too!
- I have too much to carry. My arms can’t take it anymore.
Raise your hand if you got this in the bag! We sure hope so! We have covered all the bases in this article, from knowing what to and too mean, how they are used and how to tell the difference. We have also looked at some everyday examples to strengthen your understanding of the subject. Self-study is good but you can learn English online with professional help. Book lessons with us at italki today.