To, Too, and Two

How to remember which one to use

to, too, and two
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The words to, too, and two are homophones: they sound alike but have different meanings.

The preposition to refers to a place, direction, or position. The particle to is used before the verb in a to-infinitive.

The adverb too means "also," "very," "extremely," or "additionally."

Two refers to the number 2. It's probably the easiest one to remember, even though it doesn't look like it should rhyme with "to" and "too." It can be confusing for new English speakers.

 

However, the to/too mistake is one of the most common homophone errors in written English, with many people getting stuck deciding between to and too (even native English speakers struggle with it). One easy trick to remember: If you mean to say "too" as in "additionally" or "also," remember that that word has more O's than "to." Extra O means a little extra/additional.

Examples of To, Too and Two

  • Meg was too tired to walk home. I was tired, too. The two of us walked to a phone booth, and I called for a cab.
  • "Guy was moving into Mensa Sarba Hall. I had seen his room in the dormitory, and it looked too small and too dark, but he loved it. For the first time in his life, he was going to live alone, away from my persistent commands. Responsible to himself and for himself."
    (Maya Angelou, "All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes." Random House, 1986)
     
  • "We had to go out to a restaurant to eat, because she didn't feel anything like cooking. The two of us and her mouthy teenage son opened some presents, and then we went to this steak house near her apartment. I wasn't hungry. I had some soup and a hot roll. I drank a bottle of wine with the soup. She drank some wine, too."
    (Raymond Carver, "Where I'm Calling From." Cathedral. Random House, 1983)

    Idiom Alerts for To, Too and Two

    • Too Little, Too Late
      The expression too little, too late means not enough (help, for example) was done or provided soon enough.
    • "The European Union attempts to tackle the migration crisis have been a failure, amounting to 'too little, too late' with not enough being done to tackle people-smugglers, a committee of British lawmakers said on Wednesday."
      (Reuters, "UK MPs Say Europe's Efforts Over Migration Crisis 'Lamentable.'" The New York Times, August 3, 2016)
       
    • Two of a Kind
      The expression two of a kind refers to very similar individuals or things. 
      "Peg smiled just the slightest, bittersweet. 'The two of them, they were two of a kind. They look so much alike; they acted so much alike.'"
      (Lisa Scottoline, Every Fifteen Minutes. St. Martin's Press, 2015) 


    Practice Exercises for To, Too and Two

    (a) I have wanted _____ visit Boise for years.

    (b) I have always been _____ busy _____ go.

    (c) Next week I am driving _____ Boise, and you may come _____.

    (d) I'll be gone for _____ weeks.

    Answers to Practice Exercises for To, Too and Two

     

    (a) I have wanted to visit Boise for years.

    (b) I have always been too busy to go.

    (c) Next week I am driving to Boise, and you may come too.

    (d) I'll be gone for two weeks.