Students often use the wrong homophone, to or too instead of two. Or they misspell it, tow being the most common misspelling.
Several things make this misspelling likely to happen.
- The w is silent
- The consonant team tw is not very common
- The vowel team ow is common,
Hence, tow, is written and quite frankly looks better to their eyes than two.
I find that sharing the two word family helps students recall the correct spelling and the correct word choice. Now this is a word family based on a common root, not the ending rime pattern (like bat, cat, fat, hat, mat...)
the two word family
I begin with the word twice, and continue through the list.
- We write each word, sounding it out slowly, paying particular attention to the consonant team “tw-” strongly sounding both /t/ and /w/.
- We discuss the meaning of each word, connecting it to the common thread of “2″
- When we finish the list, I ask students which word is missing. That’s when we put two at the top of the list. We make note that even though it isn’t sounded, the w has to be in two. It’s a characteristic of the family.
Here’s a list of the words with their meanings that reflect the thread of 2 running through them
twice — to do something 2 times
twin — one of 2 born at the same birth
twenty — 2 tens
twelve — literally, 2 left over (10 and 2 more)
between — a position or connection involving 2 (betwixt, archaic for between)
twine — a strong string made from 2 (or more) strands
twilight — literally, half (1/2) light
twain–Old English meaning 2; Kipling “never the twain shall meet”