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How to Use "Too" and "To" Correctly

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Are you used to seeing "to" and "too" mixed up too many times? A common mistake, the use of "to" or "too" is very easy to differentiate between and once you know how to tell, you can teach others how to get it right too!

Make this easy by focusing on "too" first. If you know what "too" means, then you can use it just for those specific meanings, knowing full well that every other use of the word "to" will be accurate.

  • Remember that "too" has an extra "o".
  • A little trick is to try stressing "too" when spoken, to help yourself remember it more easily. One great example is where you place emphasis on it such as when you want to get your own way: "I want to come toooooooo". Of course, don't spell it that way, but keep it as a mental image for future reference.

Learn the meanings for "too". The first meaning is "also" or "besides"; the second meaning is "excessively" or "extra". In addition, some people use it to mean "very". Think of too as being relevant when there is an increase in something, such as temperature, difficulty, sensitivity, etc., "too hot", "too challenging", or "too soft". Hence:

  • Choose the word "too" when it can be substituted for the word "also".
    • For example: "She felt awful, too (also)" or "I can see you too (also)".
  • Use "too" to modify or emphasize a word.
    • For example: "The weather is too (excessively) hot", "I've eaten too (excessively) much", or "The package is too (excessively/extra) big".
  • "He wasn't too (very) interested in my book."

Learn the role of "to". "To" is a preposition. Use "to" for expressing direction, place, or position. For example:

  • It can be used when going towards something."I am going to the store" or "Will you just go to bed please!"
  • It can be used when you're doing something in the direction of something or someone, such as: "I am speaking to your friend", or "I am looking to the right".

Understand that "to" is also used when you’re using a verb in the infinitive. For example: "To go home", "to catch a mouse", or "to open the door."

Practice. Here's a few to test yourself with (answers in "Tips" below):

  • She's coming [to/too] your party [to/too].
  • I'm [to/too] hot [to/too] help you carry [to/too/two] suitcases [to/too] the bus station.
  • We are hoping [to/too] be near the festival [to/too].
  • It's [to/too] early [to/too] be asking me questions about where I am headed [to/too].
  • I hate [to/too] disturb your thoughts but are you ready [to/too] help us with our homework [to/too]?

Tips

  • Some claim that never ending a sentence with a preposition is grammatically correct and that following this "logic" can prevent you from making a mistake with "to" and "too" because it'd mean you'd always avoid using the word "to" at the end of any sentence. However, this is based on a misunderstanding and modern grammarians claim that it is perfectly acceptable to place prepositions at the end of a sentence, and always has been (cue Shakespeare).[1]
  • Think of too as as two zeros because it's used as a duplicate or in phrases referring to two or more objects, places, or things.
  • Answers to the test questions:
    • She's coming to your party too.
    • I'm too hot to help you carry two suitcases to the bus station.
    • We are hoping to be near the festival too.
    • It's too early to be asking me questions about where I am headed to.
    • I hate to disturb your thoughts but are you ready to help us with our homework too?
  • Although a less (but still) common mistake, don't forget about "two." This is easy to distinguish because it means the number, 2.
  • Keep in mind some more examples:
    • Do you think we're coming toosoon?
      • Here, you can stress "toooo", as in it's much sooner than you should be coming.
    • You should meet us there, too.
      • Here, you can stress "toooo" as in, "Why don't you meet us there as well; in addition; along with, etc.
    • It's a cold day tobe playing outside.
      • Nothing here adds emphasis or information.
    • They are going tothe beach with us.
      • Nothing here adds emphasis or information. It is simply a preposition.