To, too and two are homophones, meaning the sound exactly the same as each other. That fact, coupled with the similar spelling, means we can often mix up to, two and too in writing. The three words have different meanings, so learning how to use them correctly is important. You will never encounter a situation in language when to, two or too can be used interchangeably.
To is used as a preposition to express motion towards a destination or condition. But it has several other functions as well.
Too is an adverb, which broadly means also or excessively.
Two is a number, used as a way to express a unit of two people or things.
When to Use To
To is one of the most common words in English, one which has a variety of functions. Indeed, the examples below are just a small selection of the uses of to, and not an exhaustive list.
Often, we use to as a preposition to express motion towards a physical destination or condition:
I am going to the store.
His mood changed from sorrow to joy.
To can be used to as an identifier for someone affected by something:
You were rude to me.
They regularly give to charity.
To is used for identifying relationships:
Harry is married to Hailey.
She’s the top advisor to the President.
To is used for indicating things that are attached:
The headboard is attached to the bed.
Canada will forever be linked to Britain.
To is also used as the infinitive marker:
I am going to change my mind.
She hopes to be an astronaut.
They plan to sing after dinner.
And in place of an unspoken infinitive at the end of a sentence:
Look. I just don’t want to (go, feed the dog, let in the cat).
Do I have to (go, feed the dog, let in the cat?)
When to Use Too
Too has two main functions: It’s used as an adverb to mean also or as well, or to mean excessively. Here is too meaning also or as well:
Hey, are you going on vacation? Can I come too?
Barbra and Frankie were great musicians. Elvis, too, was a top singer.
Too can also be used as an adverb that means excessively, or to a higher degree than is possible or necessary:
Stop the car; you are going too fast.
That movie is too corny for my taste.
Elaine was too timid in the workplace.
To, Too and Two
Because it’s a homophone of to and too, two can also get mixed up with these words. Two is a number, a group of more than one thing and less than three things.
There are two Sundays in a fortnight.
Peter and Paul are the two best basketball players in college.
Two can also specifically refer to years of age:
My baby is two.
The twins will be two in August.
What is the Difference Between To and Too
Because of the similarity in spelling of to and too, it might feel to some that the two words should be connected or closely related. They are not. Too will always mean also or excessively, whereas to is a preposition with the wide variety of functions listed above. Native speakers often mix them up to such an extent that it’s almost accepted at times, such as with the informal setting of social media. However, if you mix them up in formal situations, it can make your writing look clumsy, unprofessional and even lead to confusion. Consider the examples below:
Kevin is going too.
This phrase indicates that Kevin is also going someplace (with other people).
Kevin is going to.
This phrase indicates that Kevin will do something in the future.
I am going too the movies. Incorrect.
I am going to the movies. Correct.
The movies? I am going too. Correct.
The movies? I am going to. Incorrect.
Robert DeNiro is in the movie; Al Pacino too. Correct.
Robert DeNiro is in the movie; Al Pacino to. Incorrect.
We like to eat popcorn at the movies, and drink sodas too. Correct.
We like too eat popcorn at the movies, and drink sodas to. Incorrect.
Examples of Too, To and Two
Here are some more examples, showing the difference between to, too and two:
Annie has two kids. She has a dog named Benny too.
If you are going to McDonalds can you buy me two Big Macs?
I don’t have to say anything more to you to convince you of my sincerity.
People drive too fast in New York City. I’d prefer to drive in Cincinnati.
The President has two years to fix this problem. Congress, too, must help.