“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
Students have trouble figuring out when to use the über-common words to, too, and two. Even native speakers confuse these tricky homophones! Every level of English learner could use a review of these terms. Listing them on the board and providing some examples will go a long way to clearing things up!
Meaning: To is a preposition that is used for many reasons in English. Some of the more common reasons include movement, direction, purpose, and as part of the infinitive verb structure.
Structure: You’ll see to before a noun or before a base verb.
- He’s going to the mall after class. (movement)
- A compass points to the north. (direction)
- They came to our aid. (purpose)
- I’m taking this class to improve my English. (infinitive of purpose)
- Do you want me to call you later? (infinitive)
Meaning: Too is an adverb that means also or very.
Structure: Too is usually found at the end of a sentence after a comma (also meaning) or before an adjective or adverb (very meaning).
- I want to go to Paris, too. (also)
- Me, too. (also)
- The teacher spoke too quickly, so the students were confused. (very)
- That desk is too large to move by myself. (very)
*Note: The first and last examples are good for demonstrating to and too together!
Meaning: Two (2) is a number that means one plus one. As for the part of speech, most dictionaries call it an adjective, while most grammar books differ in what to call it: adjective, article, determiner, orquantifier.
Structure: Two is found before a noun, or on its own in a subject or object position if the noun is understood.
- I bought two bags of chips at the supermarket.
- My roommate wanted to watch two movies last night.
- A: How many books did you buy? B: I bought two. (books is understood)
- A: How many copies do you need? B: Two should do it. (copies is understood)
Here’s to success with these terms!