by Marsha Ward
Today I want to write about a set of English triplets that cause a bit of trouble in our compositions: to, too, and two. They sound exactly alike. However, they have disparate meanings. Okay. I'll wait while you look up disparate.
Back so soon? You must have a dictionary site bookmarked on your computer, or have one close to hand. Good for you!
Let's get two out of the way. It has only one meaning. It is the digit 2 spelled out. Two is one more than one. Got it? Good! You'll never use it wrong again, right?
Now, to has a lot of meanings and uses, so let's look at too first so we can rule that out, or at least know when we should use it instead of to.
Too is the stressed form of to, or in other words, it is an augmentation, a larger version, carrying more weight, as it were. It means
1 in addition; also [I went to the store too]
2 more than enough [the hat is too big]
3 extremely; very [it was just too delicious!]
See how that takes it out of the realm of the everyday to?
To is the workhorse preposition of the English language. It is used in almost every instance where you suspect that sound should be used. It is a sign of the infinitive verb form, the base of verbs: to be; to see; to ask; to go. A few of the many other uses are
in showing direction: [turn to the left]
on, onto, against, etc.: [tied to a post]
as compared with: [a score of 10 to 0]
in honor of [a toast to you]
and on and on.
It is also used as an adverb:
1 forward [wrong side to]
2 shut; closed [pull the door to]
3 into a state of consciousness [the boxer came to]
4 at hand [we were close to when it happened].
Like I said, it's the workhorse of the language. When it doubt (and you know it isn't the number you want) choose to.