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I came across the following in a children's textbook about Japanese:

[Ninja] did not have magic powers but they did have [discipline, determination and daring] ... These attributes will help you too succeed in learning a new language.

At first I thought it was wrong, but Comma or no comma before "too"? (and possibly others) states that commas aren't required unless the "too" is used for an abrupt change of thought, and this question on infinitives says you don't need to have a "to" before "help". Combined, would this mean that the quotation is grammatical?

Also, is it recommended to edit a phrase that looks incorrect so that it looks correct, or to avoid schoolchildren (and others!) thinking that the infinitive is "too learn"?

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Regarding your supplementary question is it recommended to edit..., I don't really understand what you mean. Are you a teacher, asking if you should alter what you (and/or the children) might see as errors in the textbooks? I hope you see now that there is no error. But should you change the textbook itself to remove the possibility of erroneous misconception? I think that is dangerous territory to be getting into. If the textbooks really are poor, use a different supplier - don't assume you can do better yourself. –  FumbleFingers Sep 23 '11 at 22:40

3 Answers 3

It may be grammatical, but it is definitely awkward and confusing, and needs the commas:

These attributes will help you, too, to succeed in learning a new language.

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Not to be confused with "... help you, [Archbishop Desmond] Tutu, succeed in learning a new language." –  JeffSahol Sep 23 '11 at 18:42

I think OP is getting confused between to and too. In the particular example, either would be quite valid. Grammatically speaking you could even write both, but it does look a bit clumsy!

In the construction (some thing) will help you [to] (some verb), the word to is effectively 'optional' even though grammatically speaking we would say some verb is in the 'infinitive' form.

In the construction (some thing) will help you too [to] (some verb), the word too is exactly equivalent to also or as well, and could be replaced by either.

I see no reason at all to use any commas. The purpose of punctuation is to aid clarity of expression, and the only reason for lack of clarity here arises from the fact that to and too sound the same and look similar.

It's worth pointing out that people do in fact quite often say "too to" in this way (though they wouldn't usually like to write it). In speech you'd often barely notice, because the second "to" is unstressed, and followed by a schwa (neutral vowel), so all you hear is an imperceptible "stutter".

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Yes, it is grammatical. However, commas before and after ‘too’ would help make it clear that ‘too’ wasn’t a mis-spelling. So would the insertion of the optional (in this instance) particle ‘to’. Still, much better, I’d have thought to recast it entirely as ‘These attributes will help you to succeed in learning a new language as well.’

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That'd avoid alarm bells, but it has less emphasis. –  Andrew Grimm Sep 23 '11 at 18:47

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