"Too" Means "Excessively"

by Craig Shrives

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Too Means "Excessively" or "Overly"

"Too" is used in expressions like "too much" and "too expensive" to give the idea of "in excess" or "more than it should be." Here are some other common terms with "too" in this meaning:
  • too late
  • too early
  • too many
  • too big to fail
  • too anxious to work
  • too afraid to ask

"Too" or "To"?

The word "too" has two uses. The one covered on this page is the use of "too" meaning "excessively," "overly," or "more than it should be."

This infographic summarizes the different uses of "to" and "too:

All the uses of "too" and "to" are shown in the lesson the difference between "to" and "too."

Examples of "Too" Meaning "Excessively" or "Overly"

Here are some examples of "too" meaning "excessively" or "overly":
  • My dog eats too much and is too chubby.
  • (This means that my dog eats more than it should and is chubbier than it should be.)
  • Karen cannot reach Boston in an hour. It is too far.
  • (This means that Boston is in excess of what Karen can achieve in an hour.)
  • I tried to catch you, but I was too slow.
  • (This means I was overly slow or slower than I should have been. Note that the word "too" increases the quality. If the quality is a negative one (e.g., slow, poor, sad), then "too" increases that quality.)
  • A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies. (Playwright Oscar Wilde)
  • (This means that a man cannot be overly careful in the choice of his enemies.)
  • You can fool too many of the people too much of the time. (Cartoonist James Thurber)
  • (This means that you can fool more people than you should be able to and more times than you should be able to.)
  • If computers get too powerful, we can organize them into a committee — that will do them in.
  • ("If computers get too powerful" means if computers get overly powerful.)

Is There a Comma before "Too"?

When "too" means "as well" or "also," it can be offset with comma(s) for emphasis. When "too" means "excessively" or "overly" (as shown in the examples above), there is never a comma. For example:
  • John passed the exam, too.
  • (Here, "too" means "as well." The comma is not necessary, but it permissible as it provides emphasis.)
There is no comma when "too" means "excessively" or "overly". For example:
  • My horse is, too, temperamental.
  • (As the writer meant "overly temperamental," the commas are wrong. Had the writer meant that the horse was also temperamental, then the word order would have been unusual, but the commas would have been correct.)
Read more about commas with "too."

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See Also

To (infinitive verb) and too To and too (meaning as well) To (preposition) and too

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