To, Too, Two

What’s the difference between to, too, and two? It’s not too difficult to use them, once you take the time to learn what they mean – and do some practicing, too.

To

To has two functions. First, as a preposition, in which case it always precedes a noun.

I’m going to the store

He went to Italy

This belongs to David

Secondly, to indicates an infinitive when it precedes a verb.

I need to study

We want to help

He’s going to eat

 
Too

Too also has two uses. First, as a synonym for "also":

Can I go too?

He went to France too

I think that’s Paul’s book too

Secondly, too means excessively when it precedes an adjective or adverb.

I’m too tired

He’s walking too quickly

I ate too much

 
Two

Two is a number.

One, two, three…

I have two cars

She ate two pieces of pie

 
The Bottom Line

The confusion between to, too, and two occurs because the three words are pronounced identically. If you’re able to replace the word with "also" or "excessively/too much," use too. If the word is a number, use two. Otherwise, you’ll want to use to.

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5 comments for “To, Too, Two

  1. Hal
    28 February 2014 at 7:34 pm

    How would you write:
    There are three twos or( toos) or (tos) in the English language.
    I have an idea on how to do this but I am interested in your answer first.
    Thanks,
    Hal Clark

    • lkl
      1 March 2014 at 6:17 am

      Twos / toos / tos are the correct forms of the plural, but you can’t really say any of them since there’s only one of each. Saying “there are three twos” is untrue: there’s only one “two.” Instead, you should say something like “There are three words pronounced like ‘two’ in English.”

  2. lesli
    26 May 2014 at 12:29 am

    if i ask you how many twos are in the english language how would you reply to this question?

    • lkl
      26 May 2014 at 6:09 am

      In writing, I would say “one,” because there is only one “two.” But if you asked me orally, I would say “three,” because there are three different words pronounced that way: to, too, and two.

  3. Dawn
    21 July 2014 at 1:02 am

    You need to write all three in the sentence because it is not just a sentence but also an explanatory sentence.

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