There are three homophonic words – to, too, two – having the same pronunciation but different spellings and different meanings. Of these, the confusion arises only between ‘to’ and ‘too’, because the word ‘two’ has only one simple meaning and that is ‘one more than one’, represented by the number ‘2’. So, here we discuss the difference between ‘to’ and ‘too’.
‘To’ is a function word that is used in a variety of ways. As a preposition, ‘to’ is used to express a direction, destination or a recipient of something in a sentence, as opposed to ‘from’; for example:
- We traveled from north to south.
- I am going to school.
- Pass on this parcel to my mom.
‘To’ can also be used to express the application of something – material or process or whatever – in the sane sense as ‘on’; for example:
- I love applying nail polish to my nails.
- Don’t apply any cheap cosmetic to your skin.
- Apply some common sense to the puzzle if you want to solve it.
Another usage of ‘to’ is for linking or establishing a connection; for example: from 9 to 12; fromBombaytoGoa; the key to success, etc. In time expressions like ‘10 minutes to nine’, ‘to’ indicates ‘before’. ‘To’ is also used to express relative positions in geometry or otherwise, as in parallel to, perpendicular to, inclined to, etc. While making comparisons, ‘to’ is used as in: compared to, similar to, inferior to, superior to, etc.
The most extensive usage of the function word ‘to’ is in making the infinitive form of a verb – to study, to go, to sleep, to work, etc. For example:
- I don’t want to go to school.
- To achieve something in life, you have to work hard.
The word ‘too’, on the other hand, is used as an adverb and has only two meanings: (i) ‘also’ or ‘in addition’ and (ii) ‘excessive’ or ‘beyond reasonable, desirable, acceptable or permissible limits’. For example:
- I am a scientist, and my daughter too wants to become one.
- The pasta dish was too bland for me to like.
- The tea you made had too much sugar in it.
- Now this is too much; I can’t take it any more!
- There are far too many obese people in the world.
- There are too few honest people left in the world.
How to remember whether ‘to’ or ‘too’? Quite easy, the one that has an extra ‘o’ is the one that conveys the sense of being in excess. That’s all about the difference between ‘to’ and ‘too’.