Apart from the context (which is the biggest clue), there is slight, but detectable difference in length:
- to is the shortest. If one were to illustrate it graphically, the phrase To be, or not to be, the word to would be the hyphens:
– —, – / – —
- two is noticeably longer. Thus, the sentence
Each state is entitled to two senators looks like this:
— — – √\ – — /\_
- too is as long as two, and essentially sounds the same—but appears either at the end of a sentence, e.g.:
Itsy, and Bitsy, and Ira, too:
/`, – /`, – /`, —
or between two noticeable pauses, e.g.:
I, too, believe that:
ˆ, —, √ –
In addition, there is a noticeable trend (particularly in British English) to pronounce the word to as /tuh/—while two and too are always /tu/.
(Originally written in reply to a question at Quora.com)
for some people this is true, not others. there is no sound difference between two and too.
Agreed—as I noted, they are of equal length, so the difference is mainly in context. I’ll rephrase.
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