Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Too Funny To Take

This week turned out to be annoying error week for me and thus for you, readers. What too-common problem have I chosen as my pet peeve of the day? (Did you catch my hint?)

I’ll offer a particularly heinous example. Consider the “sentence”, “That’s to funny your awesome!!!” Perhaps you recall having seen such accolades posted on blogs or forum threads. If you haven’t, you are a luckier person than I am. I promise you that I am not exaggerating this example. I recently addressed your versus you’re. Today I take on “too” versus “to”.

You can remember the difference by substituting the words “also” or "extra" for the word “to” in your sentence. If it still makes sense, use both o’s. That’s it – the entire rule for deciding which word to use summed up in two sentences.

Perhaps you’re asking how to remember that the too that means also has two o’s. Think of an excited teenaged person saying, “Me, too!” That second word should be at least two syllables long, pronounced, “To-ooo!” Two syllables equals two o’s.

The word “to” covers a lot more territory. Because it you use it for different parts of speech, the rules dictating its proper application are more complicated. “Technical” grammar terms like preposition and infinitive can intimidate people who don’t care about the nuts and bolts of language.

This makes grammatically lazy people say to themselves, “I won’t remember all of those rules so why should I bother? Everyone knows what I mean.” That, in turn, makes fussy language freaks like me ignore their posts or e-mails. Thus, communication shuts down before it begins.

Many rules of grammar become self-evident if you take your time when writing. Consider the meaning of the words you use before you click that button and publish it for all the world to see.