When it comes to learning English, just because a word is short doesn’t mean it’s easy to use, pronounce, or understand. If you’ve ever had trouble with the words “to” and “too”, you know exactly what I mean. Sometimes, learning shorter words can be much more difficult than you expect because it’s so easy to mix up similar words. Plus, “to” and “too” are almost spelt the same, which makes it even harder to understand the difference. Though, you might feel better to know that even native English speakers can mix them up.
If you’ve been struggling to use these words while speaking or writing English, these tips can help.
What’s the difference between to and too in English?
So, why are “to” and “too” different words? At first, it can seem pretty confusing. This is because these words are homophones (like there, their and they’re). That means they have the same pronunciation, but different spellings and meanings.
The word “to” is only spelt with one ‘o’ and is a preposition that shows direction or location in a sentence. For example, “I’m going to the book store.” Think of it as a replacement for words like “toward” or “until”.
On the other hand, the word “too” is spelt with an extra ‘o’ and is an adverb. It’s used to mean “also” or “very”. For example, “I like ice cream, too.”
How to use “to” in a sentence
You know that “to” is a preposition, but that doesn’t mean you know when you should use it in a sentence. One reason English language learners have so much trouble with the word is that it’s used quite frequently and can mean a few different things.
For instance, you can use “to” to provide information about where someone or something is going. “Jack is going to work.”
The word “to” can also be used in place of “until”, especially when you want to talk about time. For instance, “The class is from two o’clock to three.”
You’ll also use the word “to” when you use verbs in the infinitive form. For example, “I like to have coffee in the mornings.”
How to use “too” in a sentence
When you first see the word “too”, it’s easy to mistake the word as a misspelt “to”. Once, you realize it’s a completely different word, you might start to worry.
Luckily, the word “too” has fewer uses. When using it to mean “also”, you’ll likely see it at the end of a sentence and separated by a comma. For example, “I’d like a glass of water, too.”
You can also use “too” as a way to say “very” or “excessively”. For instance, “It’s too noisy inside that restaurant.”
You’re also more likely to come across the word “too” in informal speech as well as in a few expressions. For instance, if someone says they had “too much fun” at a party, it likely means that they had a lot to drink or did something they might regret.
How to remember which one to use
Even if you remember what a word means, it can often be confusing if you come across it in a complex sentence or get confused while trying to speak or write.
There are a few tricks you can use if you want to check whether you should be using “to” or “too”.
First, you can try replacing the word with “also” or “excessively” and see if the sentence still makes sense. If you can still understand the meaning of the sentence with these words, you would use “too” in the sentence. If not, you might need to use “to”.