MORE CONFUSING WORDS

'OF' and 'OFF'

 

'TO', 'TOO' and 'TWO

          It has come to my attention that people often confuse these annoying little words.

 

          They may look much the same, and sound exactly the same, but they have different meanings and uses.

 

OF

          This word describes a relationship between things.

 

          So you might say, 'It's a matter of law.'  This means that whatever is being discussed is related to law, or belongs to the law.

 

          We say, 'The Queen of England' because we are speaking of the relationship between the Queen and England.  They are linked.  The Queen belongs to England and England - supposedly - belongs to the Queen.

 

So - the centre of town.

NOT 'the centre off town'.

 

OFF

          This word is used when we are talking of things being separated or removed from each other, or of something being ended.

 

          So we say, 'Take off your coat.' - The coat is being removed from the person.

 

          'He took the hat off the peg.' - He removed the hat from the peg.

 

          We can say, 'Turn off at the next junction.'  That is, leave this road.

          Or, 'Switch off the computer.'  That is, end your session on the computer.

 

          Or we could say, 'The King's head was cut off.'  The king's head was removed from his body.

 

So - 'Take your feet off the table.'

NOT - 'Take your feet of the table.'

 

          And you NEVER need to say 'of off'.  When you take your feet off the table, you remove them from it. That's all that needs to be said.

         Your feet were never 'of' the table.  They never belonged to it, so to add 'of' is completely unnecessary.  The phrase 'of off' is awkward, ugly and incorrect.

TO

          This word expresses direction or position.  It's about the relationship between things.

 

          So we can say, 'Give the parcel to her.'

                         The parcel is to be moved in her direction.

 

                        'Are you going to London?'

                        Are you moving to the place called London?

 

                        'You're going to be six tomorrow!'

                         With a movement in time (tomorrow) you are going to become six.

 

TOO

          This means 'in addition to', 'as well as,' or 'to a greater degree than is usual or desirable'.

 

          So we can say, 'Davy is going to London too.'

                                   Davy is also moving in the direction of London.

 

          Or we say, 'It's too hot in here.'

                            It is hotter than desirable here.

 

          Or, 'It's too expensive.'

                 It costs more than I would like to spend.

 

          A useful way of remembering which word to use is to think 'too much'.  If what you mean is that something is too much - much too hot, much too cold, much too expensive - then use the word with the extra 'o'.

 

So - 'too much.'

NOT - 'to much.'

 

 

TWO

 

          This is an entirely different word - it's the number two.

 

          Why does it have a 'w' in the middle?  Because the 'w' used to be pronounced.

 

          The word used to be said, as it still is in Scotland, as 'twa'.  Think of 'twin' which means 'double'.  It's from the Old English twinn, which meant 'double' or 'two'.

 

          So, if you don't know whether you should use 'two', ask yourself if you mean the number two, or something twinned or doubled.

 

The shepherd had two dogs.

NOT - the shepherd had to dogs

And NOT - the shepherd had too dogs.

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