There/They're/Their, You're/Your, To/Too/Two

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Another common mistake are the misuse of the words to, too, and two; they’re, there, and their; you’re and your.

I know this is a bit basic, but these are the errors I see most often. The English language can be confusing when there are words, called homonyms, which sound like other words but have different spellings and meanings. (E.g. To, two, too; you’re, your; meat, meet; buy, by, bye; bear, bare; its, it’s; for, fore, four; brake, break; sent, scent, cent; principal, principle; the list is endless.) Here’s a link, which I’ll figure out how to add, that will take you to a page with a large list of homonyms.

Here is the definition for homonym:

Homonym – noun – each of two words (or more) having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling. (Keep in mind that some homonyms can have the same spelling but still mean different things: E.g. a dog’s bark; tree bark)

Here’s the lesson; I’ll try to keep this as brief as I can.


Let’s start with to, too, and two.

The easy part is that we all know that this spelling of two is the number. Moving on.

Here’s where some people have difficulties: to/too.

“To,” believe it or not, is a versatile word. Not only is “to” a preposition, meaning it shows direction, location, identifies a person/thing/animal, “to” is also an infinitive marker meaning it comes before the verb and expresses action: I was going to see a movie; I need to buy cereal and milk; I need to wash my laundry. “To” can also be an adverb.

“Too,” on the other hand, is an adverb that can show excessiveness.

E.g. He was driving too fast; Carol ate too much pizza; John’s pants shrunk and are now too small.

“Too,” in most cases, is used as an addition.

E.g. Carol was on the fence about going out to the movies, but once John said he was going, she agreed too; I want pizza, too.

Now we must learn how and when to use each version of to/too.

What helped me learn when to use to and too was the phrase as well. For example, when writing a paper/story/whatever, if I could replace too with as well, in addition, furthermore, moreover then I knew that too was correct and to was not.

John likes pizza too.

John likes pizza as well.

Carol likes to read, but she likes to listen (here we have to before the verb listen) to music (to identifies music) too.

Carol likes to read, but she likes to listen to music as well.

See how too and as well are interchangeable and the sentences still make sense? Now, if you replace the word to with the examples shown above and it does not make sense, then to is the correct word to use. Unless you’re talking about a number count: There are two pillows.


Now moving on to they’re, their, and there.

This is another common error I read all of the time.

Let’s start off with there. “There” shows location. Simple enough? I think so, too/as well.

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