The Easy Explanation
“To” means toward: Mom gave a present to Grandpa for his birthday.
“Too” means also or very: The younger sister cried out, “I want to come, too!”
The snow on the roof was too heavy, and the structure collapsed.
“Two” means the numeral: There were two plates set at the table—one for Mom and one for Dad.
When to Use “To” vs. “Too” vs. “Two”
The word “to” is preposition that means in the direction of (as in toward):
The soldiers marched off to war.
“To” can also be used with a verb to create what’s called an infinitive (such as to slice, to walk, to drive, etc.):
The dog liked to run in circles.
The word “too” is an adverb that often means also (meaning in addition to). It can also mean very (as in excessive or to a high degree).
The word “two” (as in the number 2) is the number between one and three.
Examples of “To” vs. “Too” vs. “Two”
- If you are heading to Alaska, pack a parka. (meaning toward)
- She wanted to say goodbye, so she stopped by their house first. (to + say, a verb, create the infinitive “to say”)
- The United States requested that China join in the talks, too. (meaning also)
- Her carry-on bag was too large, and the airline made her check it. (meaning excessive)
- She had two modes: talkative and asleep. (meaning the number 2)
How to Remember the Difference
The key to remembering these commonly confused words is “too.” The number “two” is easy enough, and the word “to” is used in many different ways that can be a little abstract. So if you focus on the more concrete “too,” you’ll be better off.
Remember the definitions of “too” this way: The word “too” has two o’s—as in an excessive amount of o’s. Those o’s seem very crowded, don’t they? Like there are just too many o’s?
Remembering that “too” means also is equally easy: When you see that first letter o, you just know that the second o is going to want to come along, too.
Theory Into Practice: Which Is Which?
Is the underlined word correct? See if you can tell.
- The two squirrels ran up the tree.
Right: There are numerically 2 squirrels, so it’s “two.”
- They took their nuts to their nest.
Right: They went toward the nest, so it’s “to.”
- The squirrels dragged a color TV into their nest, to.
Wrong: It means in addition, so it should be “too.”
- The nest was to heavy, and it fell from the tree.
Wrong: It was excessively heavy, so it should be “too.”