By in Random

Two Tacos to You, Too?

The problem is prevalent. Even native English speakers and writers have a problem knowing the differences of the simplest of words--to, too, and two.

Some of us are old enough to remember English teachers hammering the rules into our heads (figuratively-speaking). Others went to Catholic school and still have nightmares about their own version of Sister Claire using a ruler over their knuckles to drive the rules home.

Regardless of the experience, the result is the same:

WE shall NEVER forget the differences of these three words.

Because of our experiences, it is likely that, when we see these words used incorrectly, we will cringe. We may gasp, choke, or blurt out some inappropriate comment about you before considering the reasons behind the error. Thankfully, if we are reading, you are not within earshot of such disparaging comments.

We may come to our senses. When we realize that you are a non-native English speaker, we will forgive you the error, and may never even mention it. Sometimes, we will help you to understand the difference and teach you the correct usage, just as you would do for us in your native language.

This brings back memories of my going into a "carcineria" in the Hispanic section of my city, asking for "dos libros de carne asado." I asked for "two books of (beef) roast." I should have asked for "dos libras de carne asado" instead. To this day, I have to think of the Libra astrological symbol of the scales when I walk in to a Mexican meat market.

We must all take care to become better communicators of the English language, if this is the default language of the writing sites. Because it is written, these slight mistakes become blaring.

The two-to-too lesson is a simple lesson. But it must not simply be heard. It is also a visual one, if you are to remember it.


This can only be used as the number 2. It has no other meaning or purpose.
-- Two (2) tacos
-- Two hundred
-- Two minutes
-- Two o'clock


This has several purposes. It is a preposition, which can show direction or movement, or can link times describing a specific period of time. It may also be used as part of the infinitive form of a verb.
--I ride the bus to school.
--We moved from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.
--The hall for the wedding reception is reserved. The time: 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
--I want to spend my money.


This word is used when there is more than enough or necessary and is usually used with an adjective or adverb. It implies a message of "excess."
--I lost weight and now my clothes are too big.
--We cooked the chicken for too long and at too high a temperature, so now the meat is too dry.
--I wrote the article too quickly, resulting in too many errors.

It can also be used as meaning "in addition" or "also."
--Sarah enjoyed the movie, and I did too .
--They attended the conference in Miami too .


Each of these words can be used in the very same sentence. In the written word, we can easily see the difference to help us to understand the meaning of the word, if used correctly by the writer. When used incorrectly, it can be extremely confusing to the reader.

In the spoken word, we must listen for the context of how the word is used. When first learning to speak a language, without the understanding of the difference in spelling, there can be confusion in verbal understanding.

To illustrate, please read (visually only) each of these examples:
--I gave to pencils too my sister, and my brother wanted pencils two. (It was painful for me to even write that!)
--I gave two pencils to my sister, and my brother wanted pencils too.

Now read them each aloud.

When we communicate, if we want to be understood, we must learn how to do this more effectively or there may always be miscommunication.

If we are unwilling to learn, then we may find ourselves at the "biblioteca"(library) to buy the two pounds of meat to make tonight's tacos. And that might be too funny, unless you get the one of two librarians to help you, who does not have a sense of humor.

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A partial linguistics lesson:

Many people refer to these words (to, too and two) as "homonyms," words that spelled and pronounced the same, but have different meanings. (Example: My mother left the main highway when she turned left.)

Though to, too and two share the same sound in pronunciation, they are spelled differently and each have distinctive meaning. So, these words linguistically are called "homophones," meaning that they have the same sound and they are also "heterographs," meaning that they are written differently.

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Sources: Parochial school education in the 1960s; linguistics classes taken at university in 2000-2001; and my own love of of etymology and reading the dictionary from the age of five.

Copyright © 2015 Coral Levang. Content many not be used without written permission.
Adapted from original written on January 17, 2014 and published on Bubblews, but removed by author.

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lexiconlover wrote on September 21, 2015, 11:54 AM

Have you read the book "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" ?, I think you'd really enjoy it. Kind of along the lines of this post.

markgraham wrote on September 21, 2015, 12:01 PM

Thanks for the English grammar review. Sometimes enunciation of various words could also help in the communication problem. As you mentioned linguistically speaking.

LoudMan wrote on September 21, 2015, 12:03 PM

This is an excellent explanation. Now, I can explain it two, to , too. But not as good as you.

CoralLevang wrote on September 21, 2015, 12:19 PM

I know of the book, and even wrote an article years ago, but have never read it.

CoralLevang wrote on September 21, 2015, 12:21 PM

When teaching English as a second language, I often use tongue twisters to help with the enunciation.

CoralLevang wrote on September 21, 2015, 12:21 PM

Thanks, Don!

LoudMan wrote on September 21, 2015, 12:23 PM

She used my name! My name!

Last Edited: September 21, 2015, 12:23 PM

CoralLevang wrote on September 21, 2015, 12:23 PM

I often do. You are now just noticing. emoticon :winking:

lexiconlover wrote on September 21, 2015, 12:28 PM

You should check it out from the library if you get a chance. I was pretty young when it came out, but have loved it ever since.

lexiconlover wrote on September 21, 2015, 12:29 PM

Oh snap, she revealed your secret identity!

markgraham wrote on September 21, 2015, 12:40 PM

Maybe I will write some tongue twisters on PP like I did on another site. I had fun writing them there and got a lot of response.

MegL wrote on September 21, 2015, 1:13 PM

I enjoyed that. I know the different meanings but still have to watch my spellings at times, because, although I know which one I need, my fingers sometimes type the wrong one! emoticon :grin:

CoralLevang wrote on September 21, 2015, 1:58 PM

the same thing happens to me with hear and here, because I just keep typing. LOL

CoralLevang wrote on September 21, 2015, 1:59 PM

I never had the experience of nuns, but have heard the stories.

CoralLevang wrote on September 21, 2015, 3:06 PM

What's my excuse then? emoticon :winking: LOL

Rufuszen wrote on September 21, 2015, 3:30 PM

There is a film, 'The list of Adrian Messanger' which deals with these little problems of the English langauge.

butchiepoo wrote on September 21, 2015, 4:58 PM

I was never very good when it came to grammar and English and all that stuff. I left your article feeling a bit awkward as far as what I would say in my comment. Thank you for the time you took putting this together. I did find that it was helpful overall.

CoralLevang wrote on September 21, 2015, 6:51 PM

Heading to the library now. It's open until 8 p.m. I have to return a DVD and pick up to more TV shows. It appears that ESAL is on the shelf there.

CoralLevang wrote on September 21, 2015, 6:53 PM

*laughs* I had my own "teachers"...not only in the classroom.

CoralLevang wrote on September 21, 2015, 6:53 PM

Is that a British film?

CoralLevang wrote on September 21, 2015, 6:58 PM

Thank you for your kind words. It is my hope that we all become better communicators. We do not all have to be very good at one thing. I do believe, however, that if we can learn the simplest of things, by understanding what makes them important, then we become better. I am far from the better of the communicators in life, especially when it comes to punctuation in writing and run-on sentences. And verbs...
passive voice and all that. I'm glad that you did write a comment. Never think that you cannot do something because of awkwardness. You did wonderfully. emoticon :winking:

DWDavisRSL wrote on September 21, 2015, 9:13 PM

This is an excellent lesson on the use of those three words. All too often I see these words used incorrectly in e-mails from educators who should know better. It is no wonder that our students have trouble knowing when to use which spelling of the word.

Paulie wrote on September 22, 2015, 3:31 AM

Wow! I just loved reading this article. I think you would make a great ESL or EFL teacher. Thailand, Korea, China, or many countries like them could use your talents teaching.

Rufuszen wrote on September 22, 2015, 4:11 AM

It is American, Universal Pictures. A few British stalwarts, but lots of cameo appearances by leading US actors

inertia4 wrote on September 22, 2015, 10:31 AM

Thanks for the lesson of the to, too, two words. I sometimes make a spelling error with the two and too words. Sometimes my finger hits the o twice. Other times I might be in a fog. But this is a good quality post about the two, to, too words. This is a good lesson for those non-english speaking people here or the ones that are not grasping the language properly. But the english language is known as one of, if not the hardest language to learn.

CoralLevang wrote on September 22, 2015, 11:58 AM

Thank you, DWDavisRSL . Coming from you, a teacher I hold in high esteem, this is a high compliment you paid to me.

CoralLevang wrote on September 22, 2015, 12:00 PM

Paulie Thank you! emoticon :smile: I have been an ESL teacher, but not overseas. I am not sure that they would hire me with the health issues.
I got my minor in TESL from Pacific Lutheran University as part of my BA program.

Paulie wrote on September 23, 2015, 2:17 AM

If your health issues CoralLevang can be controlled with medication, I'm sure you would be hired here in a heartbeat.

CoralLevang wrote on September 23, 2015, 2:21 AM

Very true about being difficult to learn. Thank you for the kind words.

Last Edited: September 23, 2015, 2:21 AM

CoralLevang wrote on September 23, 2015, 2:23 AM

I require an injection monthly of a very expensive drug, which controls my symptoms. I do not think that I could get hired, because of that.

inertia4 wrote on September 23, 2015, 6:26 AM

You're welome. I enjoyed this post very much.