Making Sense of English Grammar: To/Too/Two- When is Two O's Too Many?

One of the most frustrating things about the English language is the endless stream of tiny, seemingly arbitrary rules. Why can't 'i' just ALWAYS go before 'e'... what's so special about 'c' anyway?

Proper use of "to, too, and two" is one of the most common grammatical errors, but the good news is that it is also one of the most easily avoidable. You do not need to know every conceivable sentence which could possibly contain these words in order to get it right; you really just need to understand two simple rules.

Next time you find yourself in the to/too/two conundrum, use this flowchart to make sure you use the correct word.

Step 1: Are you referring to an amount of objects? 

This is literally the only use of the word "two". You will only use this word if you are referring to the number "2". Step one is easy and straightforward, and it instantly eliminates one of your options. If you are not talking about a number, you are really only choosing between "to" and "too", so move on to step two of our flowchart!

Step 2: Are you talking about excess, or do you mean "as well"?

If so, you are using the word "too". The word "too" has... ahem... two uses. It also has two o's, which will help you remember how to use it properly using a simple trick:

If you are talking about too much or too many of something, use the one that has too many o's.

If you are saying "something happened, then something else happened, too", use the one that has one 'o', and a second 'o', too.

Remember, for "too" it's all about the extra 'o'! 

Step 3: If you've made it this far, use "to".

"To" is by-far the most often used of the three. You will never memorize all of the different uses of the word, although you're more than welcome to try! Instead, just remember that if the word you need does not fit the very narrow uses for the words "two" and "too", then you need the only one that is left: "to"!

There you have it; you never need to be confused by to, too, and two again. Follow this simple flowchart and you will use the correct word, every time!

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Dave Child

Dave is the founder of Readable.io, and has been building websites since the early 90s. He's one of those fortunate people who gets to do what he loves for a living.

       


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