I am wondering whether there is any correct use of "to" successively, one after another, in any English sentence.

Here is an example:

Our team is too accustomed to following the process everyone is used to to change anything now.

The sentence sounds clunky and I've rewritten it:

The process our team is used to has been followed for too long to change anything now.

Better. But, is a sentence written like the original given incorrect, or just ugly and nonetheless correct?

Given how language evolves, I could see someone concluding that because it is ugly, it is wrong (or will be.) I'll clarify a bit further for this case and ask, "Would such a sentence written with successive 'to' be likely to get deductions in a college level English course?"

EDIT: I would consider correct to mean that it must be generally acceptable in all but the strictest standards of academic writing (e.g. Scientific Research papers, Master or Doctoral Thesis.)

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    Welcome to EL&U. You need to specify what you mean by correct; your first example is perfectly grammatical and would probably be fine in conversation, but looks awkward in writing as you note. Not everything that is analytically correct is sensible or elegant. – choster Apr 23 '18 at 18:43
  • Writing might be a better place to ask about how to phrase things like this better. – Barmar Apr 23 '18 at 19:16
  • Thanks @choster. I did, in a sense, propose a definition for what I would consider correct if there was doubt: "Would such a sentence written with successive 'to' be likely to get deductions in a college level English course?" – Robert Talada Apr 23 '18 at 20:17
  • Hello @Barmar. I appreciate your response but I was not asking how to phrase this better. I was asking if any sentence with successive "to" could be considered grammatically correct. – Robert Talada Apr 23 '18 at 20:18
  • You asked if it would get deductions in a college English course. They don't just care about grammar, they care about clarity. – Barmar Apr 23 '18 at 21:50

Repetitive words like this, if used appropriately, are considered to be grammatically correct—however, they can look awkward. Some people (I am one) will always rewrite a sentence so that no word is used twice in a row.

I'm more used to seeing had had constructions; to to was new to me.

Incidentally, I think your sentence would still make exactly the same sense if the "doubled" part were simply removed:

Our team is too accustomed to following the process to change anything now.

Even if the double words weren't your concern, such rephrasing could simplify it by avoiding redundancy. (Which is just another style consideration, and certainly not necessary.)

For a more detailed discussion of the acceptability of doubled words (and their stylistic awkwardness), the blog post "When Are Double Words OK?" is a good reference.

Whether you would be marked down or not for using double words would depend on if it were a grammar course or a writing course—and, if a writing course, what the particular instructor's criteria were.

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  • Thank you, I believe "that that" is fairly common too. It's what I kept running into when trying to find information on this myself. – Robert Talada Apr 24 '18 at 12:47

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