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”
- Jane would like some ice cream, too. I, too, am part Swedish.
- Frida was too small to ride the roller coaster. Henry is too tired to watch the late-night movie.
- 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:
- a. In a direction toward so as to reach: went to the city. b. Towards: turned to me.
- 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.
- Toward a given state: helping minority women to economic equality.
- In contact with; against: their faces pressed to the windows.
- In front of: stood face to face.
- Used to indicate appropriation or possession: looked for the top to the jar.
- Concerning; regarding: waiting for an answer to my letter.
- In a particular relationship with: The brook runs parallel to the road.
- As an accompaniment or a complement of: danced to the tune.
- Composing; constituting: two cups to a pint.
- In accord with: job responsibilities suited to her abilities.
- As compared with: a book superior to his others.
- a. Before: The time is ten to five. b. Up till; until: worked from nine to five.
- a. For the purpose of: went out to lunch. b. In honor of: a toast to the queen.
- 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.
- 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.
- In one direction; toward a person or thing: owls with feathers wrong end to.
- Into a shut or closed position: pushed the door to.
- Into a state of consciousness: The patient came to.
- Into a state of action or attentiveness: sat down for lunch and fell to.
- (Nautical.) Into the wind.