Confusion among the words to, too, and two ranks almost as highly as errors involving it’s and its in terms of overall prevalence. Among the three, the word to is usually the most commonly used and has many different meanings that can be found when we look up the word in a dictionary. In most cases, the word is used as a preposition but there are a few less common instances where it can be used as an adverb. Here are some of the most important meanings of the word to, followed by examples of correct usage:
- toward, in the direction of, or becoming closer in distance
- We went to the store.
- The advisor turned to me and explained the idea.
- against, in contact with
- His neck was pressed to the ground by the boots of fascist pigs.
- concerning, regarding
- We are waiting for a reply to my email.
- constituting, composing
- There are four quarts to a gallon.
- indication of an infinitive verb form
- We wanted to go.
- The investors were looking to buy.
- awaking into consciousness
- After being in a coma for several days, the patient finally came to.
- move into a closed position
- Please push the door to so I can get some sleep.
- a specific nautical usage meaning “into the wind”
- The captain shouted, “Heave to and lower the anchor!”
Meanwhile, the word too is relatively easy to understand because there are only two basic meanings:
- also, in addition to
- After reading about how much money could be made on the Internet, she wanted to set up a website too.
- excessively, more than is necessary
- Putting too many graphics or advertisements on a web page may slow down loading times and discourage visitors from reading your content.
- As a libertarian Internet marketer, you can never have too much money, too many referrals, or too much freedom.
Finally, two is the easiest of the three words to understand because it simply refers to the number that is the sum of 1 + 1:
- Two income streams are better than one, although having more than two is better still because we can diversify our assets and minimize risk.
Now for some examples of incorrect usage, followed by the corrected forms:
Incorrect: he seems to scarred to ask you and he wants you too hurry up and ask him out and he is jus tryin to make you do that a lot quicker by actin lik he is losing interest — user “wolfeman8″ on Yahoo! Answers
Correct: He seems too scared to ask you and probably wants you to hurry up and ask him out first. By acting like he is losing interest, he is hoping to persuade you to ask him out much sooner.
Incorrect: Do you think I waste to much money? — Question asked by user “Animal lover” on Yahoo! Answers
Correct: Do you think I waste too much money?
Incorrect: The solution is too make sure that any data being return is encoded as UTF-8. — Joshua Eichorn of blog.joshuaeichorn.com
Correct: The solution is to make sure that any data being returned is encoded as UTF-8.
Incorrect: The cost was 8 cents and her father told her that was two much money. — Ann Werrebroeck Herman at belgium.rootsweb.ancestry.com
Correct: The cost was 8 cents and her father told her that was too much money.
The topic for next week is still open for discussion, but at this point I am leaning toward either covering then vs. than or addressing the issue of apostrophe abuse, which includes the widespread but incorrect use of apostrophes in plural nouns.