Don’t you hate it when someone drones on and on? And on? It can be so frustrating when somebody won’t stop talking, especially if they’re not saying anything important. Would you say that this person has been talking for “to long” or “too long”? Our post on the difference between too cute & to cute also illustrates this rule. In this post, we’ll break down the difference between these two phrases and give you some great examples.
Main Difference Between “To Long” or “Too Long”
The English language is full of very similar words, like bare or bear with me. By now it should be obvious that even a tiny spelling difference can completely change the meaning of a word, phrase, or sentence. Here is how you choose between the phrases “to long” vs “too long”. In fact, it is actually the same thought process for how we choose between too late or to late!
- “To Long” – Grammatically incorrect misspelling of “too long”.
- “Too Long” – The phrase “too long” is often used to describe something that is excessively long. If you’ve ever been caught in a conversation with someone who just wouldn’t stop talking, then you know what it means when something is “too long.”
Takeaway: Use the adverb “too” before the adjective “long”.
How To use “Too Long”
Let’s start by looking at the word “too”. When it comes to parts of speech, Too is an adverb that means excessive or in addition.
- “My friend Mark took too long to show up”
- “Hey wait for me! I want to go to the mall too!”
It’s often used to describe someone who is overly eager, like when your friend asks if you want to go for a walk and you say, “Too bad, I’m too tired.”
However, it can also be used to describe something that’s been done to excess, like when your other friend says, “I’ve been working too hard.” It is confused almost as much as writers confuse the words how ever vs however!
Therefore, the phrase “too long” can be used in a few similar ways:
- Describe something that is tedious or time-consuming. For example, you might say that a movie is “too long” if it feels like it’s dragging on without any real purpose.
- You might say that a book is “too long” if it could have been shorter without sacrificing any important information.
- You might also use too long to refer to distance. For example, “I am not going to run a marathon 24 miles is far too long!“
How To use “To Long”
Spelling is a critical part of grammar rules. Although it is just one letter apart, the word “to” has a different meaning and use case. To is a preposition. It is often used before a noun or pronoun to show:
For example, “He walked to the store.” In this sentence, the word “to” shows that the man is walking in the direction of the store.
Let’s be clear, “to long” is grammatically incorrect. This is a very common spelling mistake that new writers make. They are only spelled one letter apart, so it is easy to see why!
Quick Memory Trick
If you’re struggling to get this grammar rule down, consider this memory trick:
- “You need to use the Long version of to vs too!”
Too is longer than to, and is supposed to be used before the adjective long!
Frequently Asked Questions
“Too late” is grammatically correct. The reason it’s often thought to be incorrect is that people confuse its meaning with “it’s too late.” “It’s too late” means the time has passed for something to happen and it cannot be changed.
The phrase “too long” means that more time than what was allowed has passed. For example try these sentences, “I missed the Black Friday sale because I waited way too long to shop!” or “I left without my friend because he took way too long to show up”.
It is proper grammar to say “too big”. This answer means that something is excessively big. However, there are unique cases where you can write “to big”. For example, “I am going to drive to Big Tony’s Pizzeria tomorrow night.”
The correct spelling is “too far”. This is usually meant to say that someone has traveled a longer distance than necessary. For example, “the reason my car broke down is I drove too far without changing my oil!”
The Bottom Line
Now you know the difference between how to use the words “to long” or “too long” in your writing. It should be obvious now that just because words have similar spellings does not mean that they can both be correct answers. Even a small spelling difference can make a huge difference!