26th December 2020
Word Choice: Toe vs. Tow
The words “toe” and “tow” sound the same but have different meanings. And it’s essential to know the difference to ensure clarity in your writing. Our guide below will show you how to pick the right spelling.
Toe (Digits on the End of the Foot)
The noun “toe” refers to a digit at the end of a foot:
She has a massive blister on her big toe.
I accidentally stepped on his toe.
Most people have five toes on each foot.
It can also refer to the part of a sock or shoe that covers the toes:
I have a hole in the toe of my sock.
More rarely, “toe” can be a verb meaning “touch with a toe or toes.” You are most likely to see this in the phrase “toe the line”:
Staff members are expected to toe the company line.
This phrase means “follow the rules” or “conform to a standard.”
Tow (Pull Something Behind a Vehicle)
As a verb, “tow” typically refers to pulling something behind a car, truck, or boat using a rope or chain. For instance:
Find this useful?
Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.
We watched the tugboat tow the ocean liner into the harbor.
We towed our caravan behind the car.
“Tow” can also refer to dragging something more generally:
Jack towed his sledge up the hill.
It follows, then, that the noun “tow” refers to the act of towing:
When my car broke down, I called a tow truck to fetch it.
Whether it is a verb or a noun, though, “tow” is always spelled with a “w.”
Summary: Toe or Tow?
These words are similar, so it’s easy to mix them up. But remember:
- Toe is a noun that refers to one of digits at the end of your foot.
- Tow can be a verb that means “pull something behind you” (usually with a vehicle) or a noun that refers to the act of towing.
If you are struggling to tell these words apart remember that “toe” always has to do with feet. And if you need a word for pulling something, it will always be “tow.” If you’d like any more help with spelling or any other aspect of your writing, why not try our proofreading service for free today?
3 Services for Transcribing Audio to Text
If you’ve been manually transcribing your audio files to text, it’s time to upgrade. With...
Grammar Tips: Transitive Verbs
At its most basic, a fully-functioning sentence in English will need a subject and a...
How to Write an Annual Report
Writing an annual report can be an overwhelming task to undertake. In this article, we’ll...
How To Cite Course Material in Harvard Referencing
As a student, course material can be a valuable resource when writing a paper or...
How to Write Blank Verse Poetry
Ever heard of blank verse? It’s poetry that doesn’t rhyme but follows a regular meter....
Grammar Tips: Prepositions
In the English language, prepositions can be tricky to master because they’re usually idiomatic. However,...
institutions and businesses