How to Use Very, Too and So

Very, too, and so can all be used before adjectives or adverbs to make their meaning stronger. They are similar words. However, very, too, and so do not have the same meaning themselves. How you use them will greatly change the overall meaning of the sentence. Let’s examine the differences between these words with some examples.

So, Too, Very Grammar Rules

Very + Adjective or Adverb

Very is used to emphasize an adjective or an adverb. It often has a positive meaning.

The book is very interesting.
She can type very quickly.
They are very kind to the students.
Don’t touch the pan. It’s very hot.

But it can be used to express positive or negative opinions or impressions (feelings about something).

The movie was very scary. (But I loved it. You should see it also!)
It’s very cold today.
After a large family dinner, everyone felt very full.
The TV is very expensive/inexpensive/cheap.

Very, not so or too, can be used before an adjective + noun

This is a very delicious coffee.
NOT This is too delicious coffee.
NOT This is so delicious coffee.

Not very + adjective or adverb can be used instead of negative adjectives or adverbs to make a softer, less critical statement.

That dog is not very friendly. OR The dog is unfriendly/mean.
He wasn’t very interested in my idea. OR He was bored/not interested.

Too + Adjective or Adverb

Too also makes an adjective or adverb strong. However, it is almost always used to emphasize a negative feeling about something. It can show, for example, that something is problematic, unnecessary, or excessive.

The movie was too scary. (I couldn’t watch the whole thing. Children should not see it.)
After a large family dinner, everyone felt too full. (They all had stomach aches.)
It’s too cold today. (I don’t want to be outside.)
The T.V. is too expensive. (We can’t afford it.)
The T.V. is too cheap. (It’s probably of poor quality.)

It can imply some negative consequences that might not be said directly.

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The test was too difficult. (I failed it.)
They are too kind to the students. (It’s not good for the students.)

Too is not used with positive adjectives except for humor, irony, or suspicion.

The book was too interesting. (I couldn’t stop reading it!)
My bed is too comfortable. (I will feel bad if I get out.)
The man is too happy. (Maybe there is some problem with him.)

You can use an infinitive after too + an adjective or adverb.

My exam result is too good to be true.
You’re too young to drive a car.
It’s not too late to sign up.
It’s too early to get out of bed.

So + Adjective or Adverb

So can emphasize positive or negative feelings. It can be used to show a cause and effect relationship when used with that.

Your idea is so interesting.
The traffic is so bad right now.
The TV is so expensive/inexpensive/cheap.
He felt so nervous about his interview (that he forgot his wallet at home).
It’s so cold today (that I can see my breath).

That covers most of it. Of course, there are always special cases where the rules are applied a little differently, but I hope that this lesson will give you a better idea of how to use very, too, and so to emphasize adjective and adverbs. Please use the comments section to ask any question about this lesson. I’ll be happy to answer!

Every teacher at LASC is experienced and trained in teaching ESL to international students. Almost all our teachers have lived and taught English in foreign countries, so they know what it is like to learn a new language and culture. They will make your experience at our school one that you will never forget. Call any of our three campuses to learn how our English programs will help you advance in your academic and professional career.

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Daniel Palacio
Head Teacher, Rowland Heights