Imagine I had 3 cups of coffee. 2 would have been ok, but 3 is too many. I want to be factual that I had too many, by exactly one. I want to say:

I had one too many cup of coffee.

But I feel like this sentence is a little to "proverbial" in the sense that "one too many" is an idiom.

According to this answer, it has a "negative connotation" and it's closely related to alcohol consumption.

I don't want to convey that at all. Is my sentence OK, or is there another way to say it?

Also, is there any difference in connotation or meaning with this sentence?

I had one cup of coffee too many.

  • is there a reason you want to say this formally?
    – WendyG
    Jan 30, 2019 at 14:19
  • @WendyG I don't want to be formal actually. Isn't it formal? Jan 30, 2019 at 14:21
  • If you're not trying to say you had more than you should have had—what are you trying to say? How can more than you should ever be positive (or even neutral)? Jan 30, 2019 at 19:06
  • Incidentally, in the first word order, "cups" must be plural, whereas in the second it must be singular. God knoweth why. Neither is more "negative" in tone than the inherent complaint of the statement entails. And neither is strongly marked as formal or informal, but if I had to choose I would say slightly formal. Aug 2, 2019 at 15:43

1 Answer 1


You are right "one too many" does usually mean there is a bad side effect, feeling sick, needing the toilet urgently, drunk, so full you can't move etc.

This isn't really a formal concept I can not think of a place where I would want to say this formally, as it is a personal internal information. So every phrase I can think of is casual:

I didn't need that last coffee

is the best alternative I can come up with.

  • "too many" is always bad, right? Is that "bad side effect" worse than a "normal" too many? Would it be the same than just "I had too much coffee" or worse? Jan 30, 2019 at 14:20
  • 1
    somehow worse, but I don't know why
    – WendyG
    Jan 30, 2019 at 14:45

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