What is the Difference Between to, Two, and Too?

Bronwyn Harris

Homophones, or words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings, are some of the more difficult words for English language learners. They can also cause native English speakers to stumble, producing such writing atrocities as "righting a letter," or inquiring after a friend's "sun and daughter." Some of the most mistaken homophones in the English language are to, two, and too — an especially especially confusing set of homophones, as there are three words that can become confused.

When "two" is used in a sentence, it is expressed as a number.
When "two" is used in a sentence, it is expressed as a number.

Two is the most simple of the three words. It generally just refers to the number, the answer to one plus one, also written as 2 or II. That is the easy definition. If you want to get more complicated, two can also mean a group, or set, of things or people: "Which children are yours?" "Oh, those two over there." A two can refer to a domino or a playing card with that number or value on it. Less frequently, two can mean two separate parts coming out of a whole: "Her heart was broken in two," or "The sheet was ripped in two.

The word "too" can be used to express an excessive amount of something, like too much homework.
The word "too" can be used to express an excessive amount of something, like too much homework.

As a synonym for "also," too can mean "in addition," as in "She has six cats, and a dog too." It can mean more than what should be: "That child is too hyperactive!" Too can be used as a way to say "very" or "extremely," as in "She wasn't too stressed out about finishing her paper." In a less formal manner, many children (and adults) may yell, "I am too!" when wanting to contradict someone.

The word "to" can be used to express the way one gives something to another, like money.
The word "to" can be used to express the way one gives something to another, like money.

To is the most difficult of the three to define, as it can be used in a variety of ways. It is most commonly used as a preposition, in many different ways. This word can express a direction or a destination, as in "He walked to the shoe store," or "We read from left to right." It can indicate a recipient: "He gave the slimy frog to her." To can express time: "Ten minutes to seven," or something that goes with or is a part of another object: "Where is the top to this jar?"

English language reference books.
English language reference books.

There are many other uses of the word, as a preposition, adverb, and part of idioms, but it is generally much easier to remember the definitions of two and too, and use to for everything else.

"Two" may be used in a sentence to express the number of times someone did something, like in the sentence, "She performed two flips on the trampoline."
"Two" may be used in a sentence to express the number of times someone did something, like in the sentence, "She performed two flips on the trampoline."

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Discussion Comments

anon307468

@anon78390: How can you get confused with desert and desert? They're both the same!

anon111642

oh my gosh. what's the difference between too and so? Please? someone?

amypollick

@Anon87005: You would use "to." Go back to the paragraph on "too" and see its uses.

anon87005

If I am typing the doctor titrated his Paxil to 50 q.d. Do I use "too" or "to"? I come across this all the time in my work and I am just unsure.

amypollick

@Anon84484: Which "to" are you talking about? A better way of writing it might be, "We will submit a quote to re-tile a swimming pool." Or you could say, "We are to submit a quote to re-tile a swimming pool." Either would be correct.

anon84484

If i were to write, "We are to quote to retile a swimming pool." would that be the correct usage of the word (to)? please help.

anon78390

Oh don't you just love the english language?

I'm a native english speaker, and i struggle with the spellings of

dessert, desert and desert:

one meaning pudding, one meaning a large sandy area and another sorta meaning " to leave / leave (without the to)."

anon67427

What my teachers teach me is way better than this! This just makes me confused. Sorry. It might be good for some other people but not for me. I'll just find another website.

anon37458

Someone taught me wrong as a kid. I have been using the wrong "to" my entire life. I have been saying stuff like "it was to difficult" instead of "it was too difficult". Thanks chicago public schools.

anon13270

What is the difference between 'SO' and 'TOO' thank U.

anon11486

I want know clearly about prepostions like to, on, at... I am so confused in using prepostions.

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