Grammar 101

It’s time to brush up on your grammar skills again. Just as I have done in the past, I’m taking a look at a set of homophones that can be a source of confusion for some people when they are writing something in the English language. While the issue between to, too, and two is not nearly as common as the issue we see between there, their, and they’re, quite a few people still seem to misuse this set of three words.

Do you know the difference between to, too, and two?

The Two Meanings of “To”

In general, “to” can take on one of two major roles. First, it can act as a preposition to indicate direction, intention, or something similar. It will always precede a noun or a noun phrase in this usage.

“I am going to the library.”
“The package is being shipped to Toronto.”

Second, it can precede a verb as part of the infinitive version of the verb.

“I was going to buy the car, but it was stolen.”
“He really wants to donate to charity, but he can’t afford it right now.”

There are some other supporting and supplementary uses for “to,” but these two are the most common.

And Two Meanings for “Too”

“Too” also has two possible meanings and usages in the English language. Perhaps it is because of these multiple meanings (and the multiple usages of “to”) that are causing some of the confusion. First, “too” can take on the same meaning as “also.”

“Can I go on vacation to Milan too?”
“Like Michael, Chris too is a freelance writer.”

Second, it can be used to indicate excess or a large quantity of some sort.

“That’s way too much sugar in your coffee.”
“Jerry spends his money too quickly. He’ll be in debt in no time.”

Only One Meaning for “Two”

Thankfully, just as we can easily distinguish between role and roll, since each word only has a single possible meaning, using “two” is very easy too. “Two” is always a number.

“Two people entered the saloon, but only one survived.”
“I have two cans of soda in my fridge.”

Do you understand how to use to, too, and two now? Do you have another suggestion for a future Grammar 101 post? Let me know via Twitter or through the comment form below.