I, too, want to understand it as well as you two!: Two vs Too vs To

Vintage paper tickets 177559076Little things can sometimes cause big problems and this is equally true in English as in life in general. As this installment of our commonly confused words blog series demonstrates, one small change between three homophones may not change their spelling but definitely changes how they are used!

Two vs Too vs To:


In order to clearly come to terms with these sound-alikes it is probably best to start with the simplest: two. Two is the number after one and before three, no more and no less. Thus we would use it as follows:

Example:  I want two tickets for the concert, please.

Note: You can remember that two is used only to refer to the number by thinking of all of the words in English which refer to doubles and begin with tw: twin, twice, etc. Continue reading “I, too, want to understand it as well as you two!: Two vs Too vs To”

Don’t Act Up If It Doesn’t Add Up!

As this is the first in our series discussing common phrasal verbs in English* it makes sense to begin, well, at the beginning. In other words, with the letter A. A number of the most common – and commonly confused – phrasal verbs begin with the first letter of the alphabet.

Act Up – to work improperly, as if with a mechanical problem.

Note: This word can be used to describe both people and things. When describing people, however, it is used more for behavioral (not health) problems.

Example:  My laptop is acting up again. The fan is making such a terrible noise that I will probably need to take it to the repair shop soon.


Example:  Whenever we go to the theater Ricky acts up; he makes a lot of noise and refuses to sit still.

 Add … Up – to add things together

Example:  Whenever I go to the grocery store I try to add up my total before I get to the register. I would hate to find out I don’t have enough money during checkout!

Add Up – to be understandable, logical, or believable

Example:  Ricky’s reason for arriving late just does not add up – who ever heard of a blizzard in July?

Note: Add up has two meanings that can be distinguished based on the position of the object* – when the object is inside of or after the phrasal verb it has the first meaning; when it is before the phrasal verb it has the second meaning. Of course, context helps too!

Add Up To – to equal

Example:  Two plus two adds up to four.

Note: This three word phrasal verb, like many phrasal verbs that are longer than two words, is inseparable – that means the object can only come after the complete phrasal verb.

Ask … Out – to invite someone on a (romantic) date.

Example:  Jennifer really wanted Jon to ask her out but was too shy to say anything for a long time!

* Be sure to check out our overview of phrasal verbs to better understand our notation and, of course, for more examples!

Recent Changes Positively Affect Australian Student Visas

Passport pages 145853332Internationals students interested in studying in Australia received a bit of good news last month as a string of reports from the Australian Department for Immigration and Border Protection made a string of announcements that could make it easier for some students to study in the island nation.

Get In The Fast Lane

The first announcement regards an extension of the Australian government’s streamlined visa processing (SVP) program. Although only those students seeking advanced diplomas – less than one percent of Australia’s higher education market – will be eligible, those that will can look forward to a simpler and faster visa process. This change also opens the SVP process to Vocational Education and Training schools, a move that legislators within the country see as a much-needed boost to student recruitment efforts.

Second Chances

At the same time, regular student visa holders who inadvertently breached immigration regulations will be able to take advantage of legislative conditions which take “exceptional circumstances” into account. That means, for example, international students who lose their student visas due to extenuating circumstances – e.g., a hospitalization – can remain in Australia while reapplying. At the same time, students whose student visas were revoked under such circumstances – and were heretofore barred from studying in Australia -will now be eligible to reapply. Of course, such students will need to provide proof of the extenuating circumstances in question and, likewise, must satisfy all the criteria necessary to receive a student visa.

New English Proficiency Tests Accepted

Finally, in news that stands to affect still more students, the Department for Immigration and Border Protection announced that, beginning November 2014, it will accept both the TOEFL iBT and PTE Academic proof of English proficiency for many visa programs. That means that Temporary Graduate, Skilled and Work and Holiday visa applicants will be able to join the ranks of Student Visa applicants (who have been able to use both exams since 2011) as they work toward to dream of higher education in Australia.