It's Thursday, and time for another lesson from the English teacher!
Today I'll explain the proper usage of two tiny but important words: to and too. Lately I've noticed that many people--even really smart people who are good writers--have trouble with these little words. Like many words in the English language that present problems, these two words are homonyms. Of course, homonyms give us no trouble when we're speaking. Since they all sound alike, someone listening to us just hears the word and decides on the right meaning in the context of the sentence. When we're writing, though, it's up to us to choose which word is correct.
To is a preposition that indicates direction, such as in these sentences:
I'm leaving now to pick up Mary from her piano lesson.
Lee, give this to your brother.
Can you teach me how to use this word correctly?
Too is an adverb that means also, extra, or very.
I want to go, too!
There's too much ice on the tree branches.
I'm afraid we'll have a power outage before too long.
He's not too happy with his new job.
That is too funny for words.
There's a simple way to remember which to/too word to use: To is your go-to word; you'll use it a lot. Too is the word to use if you mean also or extra; that's easy to remember because it has an extra o.
One of the reasons that writers sometimes have problems with these words is that spell checkers won't catch them. To and too are both legitimate words, so they won't register as misspelled words. It's up to the writer to choose the right word.
Remember this rule:
If you mean to say "also," "extra," or "very much," use the word with the extra "o"!
**Note: There is a third homonym of to and too: the number two. This one doesn't usually cause too much confusion, though.**
Please let me know if you have any specific grammar questions! I'll be very happy to help you if I can.