Too vs. So: What’s the difference?

TOO = A negative description

When something is not good, or you don’t like it, or you can’t use it, use too to describe it. When you use too in a sentence, it means that you are not happy, or there is a negative result.

  • The driver was going too fast. (He crashed his car and died.)
  • The food was too hot. (I couldn’t eat it, or I burned my mouth.)
  • The music was too loud. (I didn’t like it, or I couldn’t hear you.)
  • The child is too young to watch this movie. (He shouldn’t watch it because it is violent or sexual.)
too or so: what's the difference?
This photo is TOO small.

SO = A surprising or happy description

SO, on the other hand, is used to describe something that has a surprising or happy effect. Be careful not to use so to describe a noun.

So is only used for adjectives or adverbs. For nouns, use such.

  • The driver was going so fast! I think he is going to win the race!
  • The food was so delicious! (I really enjoyed it and want to eat more.)
  • The music was so beautiful! (I loved listening to it.)
  • The child is so young to be watching this movie! (I can’t believe he is watching the violent movie. I hope he doesn’t have nightmares!)
This photo makes me SO happy!

Very = Intensify the meaning

Very is different than so and too. It doesn’t show how YOU are feeling about it. Use very only to increase or intensify an adjective or adverb.

  • Water is cold… Ice is very cold.
  • Your parents are old… Your grandparents are very old.
  • Driving a car is difficult… Flying a plane is very difficult.

Try not to use very all the time. There are so many other words that you can use instead. For example, you can say that ice is freezing instead of very cold. You can find more examples of these words here.

I hope you didn’t find this lesson too difficult to understand. You can practice more by describing the photos below.

  1. It’s raining _____ hard, but he doesn’t care.
  2. Stay back! We can’t go in there. The fire is ____ hot.
  3. Wow! That dog is ____ big! He’s enormous!
  4. We are ____ late. They are closed until tomorrow.
  5. My jeans are ____ big now. Before I went on a diet, I was ____ fat!

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