To and Too

Question: When do I use “to” or “too”? Example: too difficult or to stay

Answer: The word too has two common meanings: (1) “also” or “besides” and (2) “excessively.” Sometimes people use it informally to mean (3) “very.”

Examples of “too”

  1. Jane would like some ice cream, too. I, too, am part Swedish.
  2. Frida was too small to ride the roller coaster. Henry is too tired to watch the late-night movie.
  3. Nobody seemed too interested in the television show.

The word to is used in all other cases—too many for me to describe in detail. Here are the definitions as listed in the American Heritage Dictionary:

prep.

  1. a. In a direction toward so as to reach: went to the city. b. Towards: turned to me.
  2. a. Reaching as far as: The ocean water was clear all the way to the bottom. b. To the extent or degree of: loved him to distraction. c. With the resultant condition of: nursed her back to health.
  3. Toward a given state: helping minority women to economic equality.
  4. In contact with; against: their faces pressed to the windows.
  5. In front of: stood face to face.
  6. Used to indicate appropriation or possession: looked for the top to the jar.
  7. Concerning; regarding: waiting for an answer to my letter.
  8. In a particular relationship with: The brook runs parallel to the road.
  9. As an accompaniment or a complement of: danced to the tune.
  10. Composing; constituting: two cups to a pint.
  11. In accord with: job responsibilities suited to her abilities.
  12. As compared with: a book superior to his others.
  13. a. Before: The time is ten to five. b. Up till; until: worked from nine to five.
  14. a. For the purpose of: went out to lunch. b. In honor of: a toast to the queen.
  15. a. Used before a verb to indicate the infinitive: I’d like to go. b. Used alone when the infinitive is understood: Go if you want to.
  16. a. Used to indicate the relationship of a verb with its complement: refer to a dictionary; refer me to a dictionary. b. Used with a reflexive pronoun to indicate exclusivity or separateness: had the plane to ourselves.

adv.

  1. In one direction; toward a person or thing: owls with feathers wrong end to.
  2. Into a shut or closed position: pushed the door to.
  3. Into a state of consciousness: The patient came to.
  4. Into a state of action or attentiveness: sat down for lunch and fell to.
  5. (Nautical.) Into the wind.
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25 Responses to To and Too

  1. Lori says:

    I have a question if I am writing Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from our family too yours. Or would it be from our family to yours. Thanks, Lori

  2. Karl says:

    Hi Lori,
    It would be “to yours.”

  3. Vicki says:

    Is it “appropriate person to speak to” or “appropriate person to speak too”?

  4. Karl says:

    Hi Vicki,
    Your first option is better: “appropriate person to speak to…”

  5. Jody says:

    What does (s) mean on the end of a word? example day(s)

  6. Karl says:

    Hi Jody,
    The (s) just means that the word could be either singular or plural. For example, day(s) would mean day or days.

  7. mike says:

    would the phrase be: ‘comes at a price to hight to pay’ or ‘comes at a price too hight to pay’? If you go to the website http://www.wallstreet20th.com/site/index.html for the new release of the movie ‘wall street’, they have printed the former. I think it should be the latter.

  8. Karl says:

    Hi Mike,
    You’re right. The phrase should be, “comes at a price too high to pay.”

  9. Rob says:

    Which is correct, “The company has developed a Compliance Manual for employees to practice and adhere too” or “The company has developed a Compliance Manual for employees to practice and adhere to”

  10. Karl says:

    Hi Rob,
    The second version is correct.

  11. Rob says:

    Which is correct, “The company has developed a Compliance Manual for employees to practice and adhere too” or “The company has developed a Compliance Manual for employees to practice and adhere to”

  12. Kent says:

    I think “The company has developed a Compliance Manual for employees to practise” or “The company has developed a Compliance Manual for the employees for practice.” is better, where ‘practise’ as a verb and ‘practice’ as a noun.

  13. will says:

    have i thought or have i thunk?

  14. Karl says:

    You have thought.
    Thunk is slang, typically used for humorous effect.

  15. Sara says:

    I feel like I should know this already, but is it “to much” or “too much”
    Please and Thank you! :D

  16. Karl says:

    Hi Sara,
    It is “too much.” Here it is used in sense (2) above, meaning “excessively.”

  17. Les says:

    What is correct when replying to someone who says, have a nice day.
    Should it be “you to” or “you too”

  18. Karl says:

    Hi Les,
    It should be “You, too.”

  19. Karla says:

    Can “I love you too” and “I love you to” both be correct? And if so, why?

  20. Karl says:

    Karla,
    Nope. Only the first one is correct. Also, you should probably include a comma after “you”:
    I love you, too.

  21. Jenna says:

    Hi,
    Would this way be correct “she can help her to”
    or would it be “she can help her too”
    please and thankyou!!!

  22. Jessica says:

    Jenna – the correct way would be “She can help her, too.”

  23. Justin says:

    We drove southwest.
    Should southwest be capitialized?

  24. Justin says:

    During the winter, it starts to get dark around 5:00p.m.
    Is this correct? Is p.m. correct or does it need to be capitalized? P.M.
    Should winter be capitialized?

  25. Bob says:

    Is it proper to use the word too as the first word of a sentence? For example, “Too, the Library of Universal Knowledge says…”