“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
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!
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.
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)
Too is an adverb that means also or very.
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)
The first and last examples are good for demonstrating to and too together!
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, or quantifier.
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!