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Which Verb to Use (Part 2): So/ Very / Too

Is using ‘so/very/too’ confusing to you? Well, you are not alone. ‘So’, ‘very’, and ‘too’ often confuse many English learners. Generally, they are used to emphasize or to intensify or to state that something is extreme and/ or intense. However, there is more than ‘intensifying’ sense that you need to know, that is the difference in using them.

  1. SO and VERY

These two adverbs are used to express something in a great degree or to intensify an adjective or an adverb. So and very are synonymous with ‘extremely’. These two can be used in both positive and negative sense, but there is a difference in the sentence structure:

  • So is used before an adjective or an adverb and cannot be followed by a noun (So + Adj/ Adv)
  • Very is used before an adjective or an adverb and can be followed by a noun (Very + Adj/ Adv or Very + Adj/ Adv +Noun)

Take a look at the following examples:

  • The beach is so beautiful (correct)
  • The beach is very beautiful (correct)
  • It is a so beautiful beach* (incorrect)
  • It is a very beautiful beach (correct)

Additionally, ‘so’ can be used to state a stronger ‘a lot’ when added ‘many’ (for countable noun) or ‘much’ (for uncountable noun). Here are some of the examples:

  • There are so many people in the office today
  • So much water was spilled on the floor
  1. TOO

Normally, ‘too’ means something that is more than needed/ more than necessary/ more than enough and therefore it is used in a more negative way. In the structure, ‘too’ is similar to ‘so’, that is used before an adjective or an adverb and cannot be followed by a noun (So + Adj/ Adv). Check out the following comparison on how to use ‘so’, ‘very’, and ‘too’:

  • The house is so big (positive/ neutral sense – intensifying that the house is big)
  • The house is very big (positive/ neutral sense – intensifying that the house is big)
  • The house is too big (negative sense – expressing that the house is unnecessarily big more than it is needed to be)

However, sometimes ‘too’ can also be used in a more positive way in certain ‘friendly’ situations, for example: “Thank you! You are too kind!”.

Hopefully, these three ‘intensifying’ expressions will no longer confuse you. Happy learning!


Published at : Updated
Written By
Asih Zunaidah
Language Center Officer | BINUS Malang
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