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Two, Too, To – Common Mistakes in English as a Second Language (ESL)

Updated on September 30, 2012
Two, too, and to are rather simple English words that are frequently used in wrong ways in English as a Second Language.
Two, too, and to are rather simple English words that are frequently used in wrong ways in English as a Second Language. | Source

Two, too, and to are rhyming English words that have different meanings but cause some errors among learners of English as a Second Language precisely because of their similar pronunciations.

They are so common and frequently found in English text that knowing how to correctly use them would help in our understanding of the nuances of the English language.

Two, too, and to are actually not very complex words.

They are quite simple, in fact.

We just have to learn how to use them correctly in sentences.

Now, below is a quick guide on using two, too, and to.

When to Use Two

We use two only in this situation:

  • When we want to refer to a number, then we use two. If we add one to one, then we come up with two.

Two is a cardinal number, meaning it shows a number and not an order like ordinal numbers. The ordinal counterpart of two is second.

Examples of Two in Sentences

  1. One, two, three go!
  2. They ran for two hours.
  3. He had two pairs of running shoes.

When to Use Too

We use too in the following cases:

  1. When we need an adverb in a sentence, then we may use too.
  2. As an adverb, too may mean “in addition” or “also.”
  3. Also as an adverb, too may mean “very” or “beyond what is right or required.”

Examples of Too in Sentences

  1. Did she run too?
  2. I believe she joined the marathon too.
  3. He was too fast. Nobody could beat him in the race.
  4. He is too tired to run another full marathon.

When to Use To

We use to in the following cases:

  • When we need a preposition in a sentence, then we may use to.
  • As a preposition, to can express a motion or a direction.
  • It can mean “until.”
  • To can indicate accompaniment or comparison.
  • It can also indicate result.
  • When we need a word to complete an infinitive, then we use to.

An infinitive is a noun phrase made up of to followed by the base form of a verb.

Examples of To in Sentences

  1. He came to the finish line way ahead of the pack.
  2. He ran from south to north without a stop.
  3. He practices from 7 a.m. to 12 noon each day.
  4. He ran to the loud cheers of his fans.
  5. It was a close fight of two hours to two hours and five seconds.
  6. He tore the strip at the finish line to pieces.
  7. To win was his goal.
  8. He had always wanted to win.

Mini Test on Two, To, and Too

  1. He is going _____ compete tomorrow.
  2. He _____ is going to compete.
  3. _____ compete for the last time is his wish.
  4. He will compete in _____ games.
  5. He won _____ gold medals.

Mini Test Answers

  1. to
  2. too
  3. To
  4. two
  5. two

Copyright © 2012 Kerlyn Bautista

All Rights Reserved

Two, Too, and To: Explained


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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      Will have my college son read this. He too is a native English speaker, but we haven't figured out what language he writes in. Excellent! :)