We’ve mentioned in many of our articles that a single space or a single letter can change the meaning of a word. An example of this is good night and goodnight. When you take out the space between “good” and “night,” the word turns from a common greeting into an adjective.
Another example is breath and breathe. When you add “e” to “breath,” the noun turns into a verb.
Today, we’re going to check out another commonly confused word pairing that trips up a lot of people — and sometimes even drive grammar sticklers mad.
Two of the most mixed-up words in the English language are too and to.
What is the Difference Between Too vs. To?
Let’s take a look at the definition of this homophone pair to help you differentiate too and to.
“Too” is an adverb people use to describe something that’s “moreover, furthermore or in addition.” This word is another way of saying “as well” and “also” but typically fits more naturally at the end of the sentence.
Another usage of the term “too” would be in describing an excessive degree or extent. This word also describes something that’s beyond what’s right, fitting or desirable.
Here are example sentences:
- Are you buying a chocolate bar from the store? I want one, too.
- Can she come, too?
- He, too, loves exploring caves and other destinations that are off the beaten path.
- Don’t purchase too many shoes when you’re in Italy.
- Maria was too distracted.
Comma Usage before Too
Don’t worry too much if you don’t see people using a comma before the word “too.” According to the Chicago Manual of Style, a comma before too is up to you.
As a preposition, “to” is for expressing direction or motion toward a thing, place, person or point reached or approached (as opposed to from). Other uses include expressing continuity or contact, as well as a limit of extension or movement.
Check out these example sentences:
- Michael didn’t dare to speak a word to Arnold.
- His response to her proposal was a reluctant yes.
- Gerald sat right next to Phoebe.
- Have you ever been to Canada?
- My parents wanted me to have a fulfilling life.
Bonus Guide: Defining Two
“Two” does not get tangled up in the confusion as often as to and too. Given that people pronounce them the same, let’s look at this word as well. Two can serve as either a noun or an adjective. This word, in both instances, refers to something exactly greater than one. Hopefully, you won’t encounter too much difficulty with to vs. too vs. two.
The main difference between too vs. to is that the former only acts as an adverb whereas the latter can serve as an adverb or a preposition.
When to Use “Too” and “To”
If you want your sentence to show direction, you use the word “to.” Also, you use “to” as an infinitive verb. An infinitive is a verbal, which consists of “to + a verb.” This acts like an adverb, adjective, subject complement, direct object or subject in a sentence.
On the other hand, you use too when modifying other words. It describes or modifies verbs and can mean extremely or very.
Remembering the Difference Between To and Too
Still confused with the too vs. to dilemma? Don’t worry. We’ll give you tips to help you further differentiate these two terms.
If you mean to say “too” as in also, very or additionally, take note that the word “too” has one more “o” than the word “to.” Look at the extra “o” as meaning additional or a little extra.
You can also omit the word “too” and the sentence will still make sense. This, however, won’t be the case if you remove either of the uses for the term “to.”
You wouldn’t say, “Because I went ___ the church…” or “Because I went to the department store ___ buy…” When you read both phrases aloud, your ear picks up a dropped word (as indicated by the provided blank lines) even if your eye somehow skips them. These sentences clearly need the prepositional “to,” as well as the particle “to” to create an infinitive verb.
Can You Pass This Too vs. To Test?
Now that we’ve discussed the difference between too vs. to, let’s test your skills. Please provide the correct word in the following:
- Anna asked Elsa if she wants (too, to) build a snowman.
- Your lip is swollen. Your eye is swollen (too, to). Is that food I served giving you an allergy?
- That boy is (too, to) funny.
- I was (too, to) late (too, to) catch the train.
- Do you like oranges (too, to)?
- It’s (too, to) cold (too, to) be outside right now.
- Don’t you have (too, to) much on your plate?
- Her mood changed from joy (too, to) sorrow.
- Frankie and Barbra were great musicians. MJ, (too, to), was a top singer.
- We like (too, to) eat popcorn in the theater, and drink sodas (too, to).
When you’re writing something, don’t forget to proofread your work carefully. This way, you can catch too vs. to errors that can confuse your readers.