Teaching Tips on To, Too, and Two

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

Students have trouble figuring out when to use the über-common words to, too, and two. Even native speakers confuse these tricky homophones! Every level of English learner could use a review of these terms. Listing them on the board and providing some examples will go a long way to clearing things up!

1. TO

Meaning: To is a preposition that is used for many reasons in English. Some of the more common reasons include movementdirection, purpose, and as part of the infinitive verb structure.

Structure: You’ll see to before a noun or before a base verb.

Examples:

  • He’s going to the mall after class. (movement)
  • A compass points to the north. (direction)
  • They came to our aid. (purpose)
  • I’m taking this class to improve my English. (infinitive of purpose)
  • Do you want me to call you later? (infinitive)

2. TOO

Meaning: Too is an adverb that means also or very.

Structure: Too is usually found at the end of a sentence after a comma (also meaning) or before an adjective or adverb (very meaning).

Examples:

  • I want to go to Paris, too. (also)
  • Me, too. (also)
  • The teacher spoke too quickly, so the students were confused. (very)
  • That desk is too large to move by myself. (very)

*Note: The first and last examples are good for demonstrating to and too together!

3. TWO

Meaning: Two (2) is a number that means one plus one. As for the part of speech, most dictionaries call it an adjective, while most grammar books differ in what to call it: adjective, article, determiner, or quantifier.

Structure: Two is found before a noun, or on its own in a subject or object position if the noun is understood.

Examples:

  • I bought two bags of chips at the supermarket.
  • My roommate wanted to watch two movies last night.
  • A: How many books did you buy? B: I bought two. (books is understood)
  • A: How many copies do you need? B: Two should do it. (copies is understood)

Here’s to success with these terms!

Tanya

2 comments

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  1. ameliajhoskins@gmail.com'

    Amelia Hoskins says:

    Jun 24, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Thanks for reminder Tanya – Turkish students always forget ‘to’ (+ inf.verb); so I also need to create a good TO/TOO/TWO lesson.

    Reply

    • Tanya Trusler says:

      Jun 02, 2015 at 10:59 pm

      Sorry that I missed seeing your comment, Amelia! I agree that some students have trouble remembering the “to” that’s a part of infinitive verbs. More lessons and worksheets on this would be great—for native speakers too! ;)

      Reply

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