I’ve put so and too together in this lesson because I have heard so many English learners confuse them! Why do the smallest words always cause the most trouble?
In this lesson we will focus on so and too as adverbs and as intensifiers.
The photo above is of Waikiki, Hawaii. What adjectives do you think of when you look at this photo? I think of the adjectives beautiful, peaceful, expensive, and far.
You can use the adverbs so and too to intensify these adjectives. Intensify means become greater, stronger, or more intense.
So is used like very or extremely. It’s another way of saying to a great degree.
Hawaii is so beautiful! It’s so peaceful, but it’s so far and so expensive.
Too has the opposite meaning. Too means more than needed, more than necessary, or more than enough. Too is a negative expression.
“I love Hawaii, but it’s too far and too expensive.”
Did you notice that I didn’t say
too beautiful or too peaceful? Too is not usually used with positive adjectives.
Remember that adverbs can also be used to describe other adverbs, too, not just adjectives!
In this lesson we will also look at when to use such, so much, so many, too much and too many.
1. So is used BEFORE an adjective or adverb.
So + adjective/ adverb (no noun)
She is so skinny.
Her new boyfriend is so handsome.
Don’t be so naïve!
He drives so fast.
Her new outfit is so lovely.
The cake she made for my birthday is so beautiful!
This movie is so long.
It was so good to talk to you today!
When did he get so fat?
That’s so cool!
2. So CANNOT be used before an adjective + noun
X: She is so a beautiful woman.
X: She is a so beautiful woman.
Instead, before a noun use such. (Remember that the article goes before the adjective.)
such + adjective + noun
She is such a beautiful woman!
I love my new boyfriend. He’s such a great person!
You live in such a nice neighbourhood.
He is such a great singer!
We had such a great day today! The weather was so nice.
He tells such awful jokes.
I love listening to them sing. They have such beautiful voices!
3. So much and so many can be used when you want a stronger way of saying a lot!
With an uncountable noun, use so much:
so much + uncountable noun
I have so much studying to do before the test tomorrow!
Have you ever seen so much food?
There is so much work to be done before the house is clean!
What a great day for skiing! There is so much snow!
So much to do, so little time!
With a plural noun, use so many:
so many + plural noun
I’ve never seen so many people in one place!
It was a great party last night. I met so many new people!
She’s really popular. She has so many friends!
There are so many cards to choose from.
I took so many pictures when I was on vacation!
So many books to read, so little time!
4. Special sentence structure with so:
So + adjective + that-clause
This sentence structure is used to talk about a result in the that-clause that occurs because of so + adjective. That can be left out of the sentence.
The children were so quiet (that) I didn’t even know they were in the room!
The cake was so good (that) we couldn’t stop eating it!
She looks so different (that) I hardly recognize her!
We got to the station so late we missed the train!
Adverbs can also be used in this sentence structure:
She ran so fast she won the race!
Such, so many and so much can all be used in this sentence structure:
It was such a good book (that) I couldn’t put it down.
I read so many books last year (that) I can’t remember them all!
I have so much studying to do (that) I won’t be able to go to the party tonight!
1. Like so, too is used BEFORE an adjective or adverb with NO noun.
Too + adjective / adverb (no noun)
We don’t see her very often. She lives too far away.
Turn the music down. It’s too loud!
She drives too fast.
Don’t work too hard!
Don’t stay out too late. You have to get up early tomorrow!
She tried memorizing the textbook the night before the exam, but it was too little, too late.
2. However, in two situations, too can be used in a positive statement:
You are too funny!
This actually means “You are so funny!” or “You are very funny!”
You are too kind!
This means “You are so kind!” or “You are very kind!”
3. Sometimes the intensifiers way, far, or much can be added in front of too:
These pants are way too big on me.
She is way too skinny!
She is far too young to be wearing that kind of outfit!
It’s much too late to do anything about global warming.
(This is different from too much!)
4. Too CANNOT be used before an adjective + noun
X: She is too a fat woman.
X: She is a too fat woman.
5. There is no similar word as such to use before adjective + noun
6. Too much and too many have a similar meaning as too.
With an uncountable noun, use too much:
too much + uncountable noun
I feel sick. I drank too much (alcohol) last night!
I ate too much chocolate.
It takes up too much time.
If he has that much time to play video games, then he has way too much time on his hands!
She was a famous singer by the time she was 15! The fame was too much, too soon.
Sometimes students say to me, “Teacher, I love your class too much!” This is NOT a good thing to say! Too much is a negative expression. It’s better to say, “I like your class a lot” or “I really like your class!”
With a plural noun, use too many:
too many + plural noun
Is it possible to have too many friends?
She’s fooled me one too many times.
How many TVs are too many?
There are way too many cars on the road.
My son is so spoiled. He has far too many toys!
I’m being pulled in too many directions!
7. Special sentence structure with too:
too + adjective + infintive (to do something)
This structure is used to explain why someone can’t do something.
I’m too tired to go out tonight.
This soup is too hot to eat.
She is too young to drive a car!
This box is too heavy to carry.
I don’t want to go to bed yet! It’s too early (to go to bed).
We’re far too young to get married.
It’s too dangerous to walk around this neighbourhood at night.
There’s no use getting upset. It’s too late to do anything about it now.
It’s too good to be true!
I can’t go to her party tonight, I have too much work to do!
The house was too expensive to buy.
Her offer was too good to refuse.
Adverbs can also be used:
She drove too slowly to arrive on time.
We got home too late to see the beginning of the TV show.
Too many and too much can also be used:
There were too many people at the picnic to count.
I had too much work to do yesterday.
8. Another special sentence structure with too:
too + adjective + for someone/something (+ infinitive)
This sweater is too big for me to wear.
We can’t go on this roller coaster. Alice is too short for this ride!
I’m too old for dolls! = I’m too old to play with dolls!
This box is too heavy for me to carry.
Do you have more questions about so and too as adverbs and intensifiers? Let me know in the comments below!
Alex Kovalov says
I would like to know if I could use “so” in sentences like these:
I was so right there!
I could so marry him!
Yes, you can use so in those sentences in informal spoken English. This is a new way of using so and it is very informal. Don’t use so this way in formal writing!
thank you so much for posting this!
If you were my teacher I would be very happy :)
Dr. John E. Joseph says
Good concepts well delivered.
yesterday, I passed the test for english course, and I got this question:
I am …. tired to do my homework.
a) too b) so d) very ..
I was too confused to solve it, because I never learnt about too and so, because I thought they all are used the same way. After all, I’ve choosen “so”. After exam, I googled and found this lessons. It’s very great! Thanks a lot!
Gaurav sharma says
You are a veteran, thank you for putting some light on the topic that i was confused about……….
thank you a lot teacher melanie.
Congratulations for your post! It was so important to me! ;) I’m still learning English and I’m sure if you were my teacher I would learn a lot! Thank you!
He is so skilled a photographer!
Melanie, you are so nice a woman!
I couldn’t find this construction in the above examples, but I am pretty sure it is correct.
Thanks for your help.
No, your sentences are not correct. That’s why you couldn’t find them in the above examples.
Let’s review two points from the above article:
1. So + adjective/ adverb (no noun)
“He is so skilled.”
“You are so nice.”
2. So CANNOT be used before an adjective + noun
X: She is so a beautiful woman.
X: She is a so beautiful woman.
[Both these sentences are INCORRECT.]
Instead, before a noun use such: such + adjective + noun
“He is such a skilled photographer!”
“Melanie, you are such a nice woman!”
i value your love to teach the people, and definitely your students are lucky thank u for helping us in what we were confused about :)
thanks for this post
i guess he missed me too much .. i guess he missed me so much ..
Which one is correct? do reply ASAP
“He missed me so much.”
“I guess he missed me a lot!”
“I guess he really missed me!”
Hi, there.. You are so nice to teach us this things eventhough you are too far from us..
Thank you Melanie, You are a wonderful teacher. I learnt a lot form this lesson.Not like other teachers, you teaches valuable points without charging money. I really appreciate it.
Thanks alot Melanie for this lesson , but there is something
Is this sentence true :
The ice is not too thin to drive on .( why we use not )
too means not -why there is (not) in here
Is it similar meaning with :
1- The ice is so thick that you can drive on it .
2- The ice is thick enough to drive on.
“The ice is not too thin to drive on.”
“The ice is thick enough to drive on.”
These two sentences mean the same thing: It’s possible to drive on the ice. Sentence #2 is more common. Sentence #1 could be in response to the question “Is the ice too thin to drive on?”
“The ice is so thick that you can drive on it.”
This sentence is not similar to the other two because of ‘so.’ ‘So thick’ means that it is VERY thick. We don’t know that from the other two sentences. We don’t know how thick it is. We just know that it’s thick enough to drive on.
I was wondering if you could be so kind to tell me if it is possible to say: “it is too big a car” or something like that because I think I have heard that, but I would like to know what the grammar rule behind it is. Thank you.
“It is too big a car” is not correct. Instead, say, “The car is too big.”
Anger Marian says
Congratulations! Your lesson it is very useful.
Does ‘too…to’ go with ‘not’? Eg. He is too old not to drink.
Yes, you can use that sentence structure.
Actually, I heard someone use that structure on TV recently:
“I used to be too proud to admit it, but now I’m too proud NOT to admit it!”
I love your lessons…I hope it’ll be of good use to my final year students. You are such a darling teacher! Thanks
Thank you so much for helping people those learn English as a second language! Ma’am, Could you have a comprehensive lesson regarding how to use “Get” in a sentence? Because I have so much difficulty using “Get” in a sentence.
I wish I could write a comprehensive lesson about the verb “get,” but that’s impossible! It is such a common verb and used in many different phrases and collocations that it would be difficult to include everything in one lesson!
The important thing to remember is that you don’t need to guess how to use a word in a sentence. Instead of worrying about rules, worry about collocations and sentences. When you are reading and listening in English, pay attention to the words and sentences used with get. It is easier to learn English in large pieces rather than one word at a time!
Hi, Can I use “so” with negative things?
e.g: Your car is so dirty.
Yes, that’s fine!