Tag Archives: Grammar

How To’s-day, Literally.

8 May

Few things drive me crazier than seeing a ‘to’ where a ‘too’ should be. Or a ‘two’ for a ‘to,’ or a ‘too’ for a….you get the idea. I’m anal about very few things in life, but this in one of them. So for today’s How Tuesday I’m going to share the tricks my freshman english teacher taught us to tell the difference between the homophones and always know which to use.  (Yes, freshman year. All this genius is the product of the California public school system after all.) Let’s start with the simplest:


The concept: This  spelling means the number 2.

The rule: If you can replace ‘two’ with ‘2’ and the sentence still makes sense, then it’s the right use of ‘two.’

“Honey? Would you please get me two (2) advil from the cupboard? My head is killing me!”
“I always have to give my two (2) dogs their own chew toys, or they get jealous of each other.”

The funny thing that made the concept stick: The bottom of the ‘w’ has 2 points. That means this ‘two’ is a number. Ta da!


The concept: This spelling has two (2!) uses. It is used to indicate excess, or as a synonym for ‘also.’

The rule: In general, if you can replace too with ‘also’ and the sentence still makes sense, it’s the too you should be using. Also, any time you’re talking about too many or too much, this is the too you want.

“Make me a margarita, too (also), please.”
“I ate waaaay too much at brunch. I’ll have to do an extra 30 minutes of cardio tonight!”

The funny thing that made the concept stick: Well, there’s the also trick, which always works for me but I also think about how a child would whine a sentence: “I wanna go tooooooooo!” The too gets drawn out, with lots of ‘ooo’s’ which is why it’s spelled with two (2) o’s.
This is also the too that means too much. Look at the word. It has too many o’s. It’s excessive, it’s too much; does it really need that many o’s? Yes! Because it means too many or too much.


The concept: This is usually the hardest to to get. But the explanation for how to use it is simple, which fits, because at only two (2) letters, it’s the simplest to to type. You use this to as a preposition or an infinitive. It’s a very versatile to.

The rule: Basically it always comes before a noun (person, place, thing, or idea) or a verb (action, state, or relation).

“I’m going to the store (noun) so I can make ratatouille tonight.”
“We don’t need to leave (verb) for Avengers an hour before it starts. It’s playing just down the street.”

The funny thing that made the concept stick: Honestly? Just memorize how to use the other forms of to correctly, and use this for everything else. This is the go-to to, pretty much your safest option because it’s so versatile.

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