Word Confusion: To vs Too vs Two

Posted February 12, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Funnily enough, everyone pretty much has the hang of to and two. However, too many are too attached to to. Please. It’s okay to expand beyond the mere to WHEN you’re adding emphasis! Puh-lease!! Oh, please, is it too too much to ask that y’all get too vigilant in understanding the purpose of too in your texts?

Now, y’all know that an adverb modifies other words. That it brings a greater meaning to the word it’s next to. Think of how very changes cold or playful when added in front. That’s what too does. It emphasizes the word it’s next to. From it’s cold to it’s too cold. Makes me shiver just reading it. Think I’ll warm myself up with it’s too hot *grin*.

To is a lovely connecting word. It’s ubiquitous, everywhere. Too is much more infrequent, and hence its too frequently butchered status. Notice that too frequently? How did you interpret that sentence? It’s not just frequently that too is slaughtered, it’s very frequently. Too frequently for my taste, ahem.

Consider the following:
I wanted to frequently

It begs the question: “to frequently what?”

I wanted too frequently.

It actually could function just as it is. And I do very often want *grin*.

I wanted to frequently hit the bookstores.

My first interpretation is that the character liked going to bookstores. A lot. Of course, I supposed it could be a self-righteous character who wants books banned…eek…

I wanted too frequently to eat ice cream.

I can understand that one. I too want to frequently eat ice cream much too often.

I wanted to frequently take the bus.

Sure, I guess this character liked taking the bus, for whatever reason.

I wanted too frequently take the bus.

This could actually work if “take” were an infinitive — “to take”.

To be honest…

Functions as an introductory phrase and is indicating that you’re gonna come clean about what you think.

Too be honest…

It would work better as “too honest”…

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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To Too Two
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Street art spoofing Back to the Future

“Back to the 80s” by Graffiti Life was photographed by MsSaraKelly and is licensed under [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A beautifully done “homage” to the movie Back to the Future.

Displays of colorful macaroon cookies

“Vanille macarons by snowpea&bokchoi (Flickr: VanilleMacarons) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Is there such a thing as too many cookies?

Two cows

“Two Cows” by Kaptain is his own work, which he has released into the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Adverb; Infinitive marker; Preposition Adverb Cardinal number
So as to be closed or nearly closed

Infinitive marker:
Used with the base form of a verb to indicate the verb is in the infinitive

Used with a verb following when the missing verb is clearly understood

Expressing motion in the direction of (a particular location)

Identifying the person or thing affected

Identifying a particular relationship between one person and another

Indicating that two things are attached

Concerning or likely to concern (something, especially something abstract)

Governing a phrase expressing someone’s reaction to something

Used to introduce the second element in a comparison

[Submodifier] To a higher degree than is desirable, permissible, or possible


In addition


Equivalent to the sum of one plus one
He pulled the door to behind him.

Infinitive marker:
I set out to buy food.

I am going to tell you a story.

He asked her to come, but she said she didn’t want to.

Let’s walk over to the Dairy Queen.

You were terribly unkind to her.

Oh, he’s married to Jane.

He left his bike chained to the fence.

…to her astonishment, he smiled

It’s nothing to what it once was.

He always drives too fast.

Is he coming, too?

I wanna come too!

Too right you’re not going out!

He is two years old.

He’s a two-year-old.

Get two of those!

Why do you have two beds in the living room?

I picked up two apples and four ears of corn.

Cardinal number: twain [archaic, masculine version of twā]
History of the Word:
Old English as an adverb and preposition is related to the Dutch toe and German zu. Old English as a stressed form of to.

From the 16th century on, it was spelled too.

Old English twā (feminine and neuter) is of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch twee and German zwei, from an Indo-European root shared by the Latin and Greek duo.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

“Release Flier for Two Too Many” promotes a film from 1913 and is from the Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences through the Chicago-based publisher, Selig Polyscope Co.

The image is in the public domain and found via Wikimedia Commons.