what's the difference between to and too

What’s the Difference Between “To” and “Too”? Here’s a Detailed Answer [With Examples]

Knowing the difference between to and too is important because they are both very common words in English.

The words to and too are easily confused in English because they sound and look alike. Whether in casual conversation, online posts or even essays, this happens a lot. 

This post will help you to understand the difference between these two words, plus when to use them. You’ll also learn a few tips to help you practice!

Let’s get started. 


The Difference Between “To” and “Too”

To is a preposition (a connecting word that shows a relationship between other words) and it is also used in phrasal verbs and infinitives.

Too on the other hand is an adverb (a descriptive word that modifies another word, usually a verb).

When pronounced properly, these words sound exactly the same.

And sometimes they can also get mixed up with two, which is always a number (the one which comes after one and before three!) You use it to indicate the quantity of something. For example: “I have two apples.” 

Definitions of “To” and “Too”

To: Showing direction, movement toward or range between people, places, or things. As mentioned above, it can also be part of phrasal verbs (e.g. “get back to you”) or infinitives (e.g. “to begin”).

Too: Also, excessively. For example “me too!” or  “too spicy.”

Uses of “To” and “Too”

1. “To” as a preposition

As we mentioned, to is a preposition that shows a relationship between words. There are a lot of ways you can use to as a preposition, but its most common meanings are related to movement or space between things.

Let’s look at some examples of how it can be used!

To show direction or movement towards something. You also use to to indicate a place of arrival. For example:

I’m going to the restaurant right now.

She’s driving to the park this afternoon.

To show ranges of time or amounts. You can use to when you want to give a length of time or distance between a certain start and end point. You also use to when giving an estimate between one number and another. For example:

The ride will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The road is blocked from Oak Street to Elm Street.

To show possession, since we say that an object belongs to a person. Another related use is attachment, which can be between objects or people. For example: 

This bag belongs to my sister.

I’ve attached the report to this email. 

To show similarity. You can also use to for proportions. For example:

This movie is too similar to the other romantic comedies I’ve watched before.

The ratio of sugar to flour in this recipe is 1 to 2.  

To show degree. This is usually meant for extreme situations: 

The weather is cold to the bone.

She studied to the point of exhaustion. 

2. “To” as part of a phrasal verb

Sometimes to is part of a phrasal verb, such as “look up to” or “get back to.”

We know that verbs are words that indicate actions. But phrasal verbs are used with other words and have a different meaning than the same words by themselves. 

Here’s an example:

I’m sorry I forgot about our plans. I’ll make it up to you.

“To make it up to someone” is a phrasal verb that means to do something good to account for (balance out) something bad that you did.

Notice that the word to still carries some of the same meaning as in the sections above. If I say, “I’ll make it up to you,” the word to shows a kind of movement or gesture between I and you.

Here’s another example:

Sorry, this is a bad time! Can I get back to you?

You might say this to someone while talking on the phone. Here, again, you can see there’s a kind of movement when I say that I will get back to you. “Getting back” is something that I will do in your direction.

Since the preposition to is so common, you’ll find many more ways to use it. But if you understand the general meaning of the word to, you’ll recognize it even in different contexts.

3. “To” as part of an infinitive

An infinitive is the unconjugated, base form of a verb. In English, infinitive verbs start with the preposition to followed by the main verb. Here are some examples:

To show

To dance

To study

Besides being the unconjugated form of a verb, infinitives can also be used in sentences. Infinitive verbs are often paired with conjugated verbs:

I want to show you something.

In this sentence, the first verb “want” is conjugated for the first person singular, or “I.” Next is the infinitive “to show,” which isn’t conjugated. This expresses that showing you something is what I want.

There are a lot of examples of the word to in Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” (click here to listen). It’s a song that expresses a lot of ideas about movement and direction and also makes use of infinitives:

I want a ticket to anywhere (movement towards a place)

Managed to save just a little bit of money (infinitive following a conjugated verb)

We won’t have to drive too far 

This last example uses the expression “to have to [do something],” which means an action that is required or needs to happen.

You can see that it also contains the word too, which we’ll look at next.

4. “Too” meaning “also”

One of the most common meanings of too is “also” or “additionally.”

Here are some examples:

I want to show you my new tattoo, too.

Are they coming, too?

She’s wearing her red T-shirt, too.

It’s super easy to spot when to use too when it means “additionally.” You just need to think if you can use the word “also” in any of the above sentences.

For example, you could say, “Are they also coming?”

But the nice thing about too is that it usually falls at the end of sentences, making it easier to use and notice.

5. “Too” meaning “excessively” 

If used before an adjective or adverb in a sentence, it’s expressing the idea of excess, or “more than is needed.”

Here are some examples:

Do your friends think you’re too loud?

When you’re at parties, do you talk too much?

Especially when you drink too many cocktails?

Has anyone ever told you that you, yourself, are just too much?

If my car is “too fast,” it has excessive speed. If the inside of my car is “too hot,” it has excessive heat.

When the Tracy Chapman song says “we won’t have to drive too far,” that means we don’t have to cover a lot of distance.

If your friend tells you you’re “too much,” this is just a way of saying that something about you is, well, a lot. Usually, when someone says this, they’re only pretending to be annoyed with you as a way of showing that they actually like you.

The song “Nobody” by Mitski (click here to listen) has a good example of both uses of too together. At the beginning of the song, she sings:

Venus, planet of love
Was destroyed by global warming
Did its people want too much, too?
Did its people want too much?

The second too in the third line has the meaning of “also.” So the sentence means: “did its people want more than they needed, also?”

This song also contains several examples of to, making it perfect for practicing both words.

More Example Sentences with “To” and “Too”

Here are some additional examples of to that are a little different from the ones you’ve already seen. Can you spot the relationships to creates between the other words in the sentences? 

I will put pen to paper and work on my essay starting now.

She grew to the height of 6 feet.

I’m looking forward to receiving your answer.

To date, they haven’t received another letter.

The boxer took a punch to the head.

Too meaning “in addition” is most often used in the middle of a sentence or at the end. Older or more formal writing may include too at the beginning of a sentence.

In academic English, it is correct to place commas before and/or after too, depending on its position in the sentence. In informal or journalistic English, the commas may be left out, but we’re using them here for clarity.

My brother wants a red balloon and a green one, too.

I, too, want a red balloon.

We want to see the tigers, too.

Too meaning “excessively” always goes before the word it modifies.

It’s too cold outside for me!

You didn’t have to give me a present. You’re too kind!

Other Words for “To” and “Too”

These words are synonyms: words or phrases that share a meaning. It may help you understand to and too if you know other ways to say the same things!

To has very few exact synonyms, but other prepositions with similar uses include:

  • Toward/towards
  • Into
  • Until/till
  • Through
  • On
  • Upon
  • Against

Too has the synonyms:

  • Also
  • Additionally
  • Excessively
  • As well
  • In addition
  • Furthermore
  • Overly
  • Exceptionally

Using “To” and “Too” in Casual Speech

Now that you know the main differences between to and too, it’s important to learn how native speakers pronounce them.

In “correct” English, to and too  are both pronounced with an “ooh” sound, but in casual speech, there is a difference:

To often becomes “tuh” and is blended with other words.

Too usually keeps its “ooh” sound.

We’ll explain more about how to changes in casual speech:

“To” pronounced as “tuh”

English speakers tend to rush through connecting words like to, transforming the long “oo” to a shorter “uh.”

You can hear this in Mitski’s pronunciation in “Nobody” (click here to listen) when she sings, “I just want to feel all right.” You can hear the to in “want to,” but it sounds flatter. The vowel sound in to goes by faster and is less clear.

In some accents, the vowel might be dropped entirely, such as in phrases like:

It’s time t’go. (It’s time to go.)

“To” blended with other words

In casual speech, to is also blended into verbs that are often used with it, sometimes even losing its consonant. Some examples sound like:

There are a lot of examples of this in songs, such as in “I Want to Know What Love Is” (click here to listen). Even though “want to” is in the title, it really sounds more like “wanna” in the song. The song also contains examples of “gotta” and “gonna.”

As you get used to hearing phrases like these, you’ll learn to understand them right away.

How to Master “To” and Too”

“To” and “too” practice quiz

If you’ve read this far, you’ll have no trouble with this short practice quiz. Give it a try!

  1. Today, I will go ___ the store.
  2. Will you come, ___?
  3. My dad needs some eggs ___ bake a cake.
  4. I don’t like things ___ sweet, so I hope he doesn’t use ___ much sugar.
  5. I might need ___ get some milk, ___.
  6. We’ll need about 1 ___ 2 cups.
  7. If you need anything, ___, just say so.
  8. I’m really looking forward ___ my birthday party.
  9. There won’t be ___ many people, but it’s going ___ be a lot of fun.
  10. We’ll party from dusk ___ dawn!

Answer key:

1. to
2. too
3. to
4. too, too
5. to, too
6. to
7. too
8. to
9. too, to
10. to

Resources for mastering “to” and too”

Now that you know the differences between to and too, here are a few resources to help you practice these important little English words.

  • To, too or two exercise at englisch-hilfen.de. This is a straightforward online worksheet with answers that helps you practice when to use to or too. It also includes the word two so you can practice telling apart all three words.
  • FluentU’s English learning programThis gives you access to lots of authentic video content, as well as helpful interactive captions that let you click on any word (like to or too) to find out more about it. You can then see the same word used in additional videos.

    You can also add words to customized vocabulary lists and flashcard sets, and test your mastery of them with personalized quizzes.

  • Song lyrics. Since to and too are both really common words, you’ll hear them in songs all the time. For more song examples, you can check out this list of songs with prepositions (including to). When you listen to a song, try to notice words that sound like to or too, then practice figuring out which one it is.


At this stage you’re probably a pro at explaining the difference between these two words. 

Now all you have to do is practice!

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