I think I quite understand about “too+adj+to” like:

Anna is too young to drive. (She cannot drive)

But I saw a sentence:

A: My family’s not like yours. We seem to spend all day Saturday fighting about where we’ll go on Sunday.

B: What about your dad? Doesn’t he make the final decision?

A: Certainly not…he’s too busy trying to come up with an excuse why we shouldn’t go anywhere.

B: Oh, doesn’t he like getting out of the city?

I wonder why we can put “trying” after “busy” (adjective) since the structure must be “too+adjective+to”.

Or can we put something else after the adjective in this case?

And what does the sentence above mean exactly? Does it mean “he is too busy and likes or tries to come up with an excuse why we shouldn’t go anywhere” ?

  • My English teacher once told me that there are several translations for a verb's 'ing-form' (pp). One of them works with "because". So "...He is too busy because he is trying [...] sounds fine.
    – Avigrail
    Jan 28, 2015 at 9:55

2 Answers 2


You should read the sentence like this - [He is too busy] [trying to come up with ...]

This is a different construction than "too + adjective + to", and it has the literal meaning.

"He is too busy" = He is extremely busy.

Busy doing what? - trying to come up with an excuse.

  • Yeah! this was good :) +1 However, there's another construction - too + adj + article + to as well!
    – Maulik V
    Apr 22, 2014 at 5:03
  • Oh, I forgot a noun there: too + adj + article + noun + to as well! She's too beautiful a girl to ignore.
    – Maulik V
    Apr 22, 2014 at 5:21
  • 1
    @MaulikV In the latter case, I’d say it’s specifically the indefinite article (a or an); using the in that case would be very odd.
    – KRyan
    Apr 22, 2014 at 12:29

He is too busy trying to come up with sth. to make the final decision

equals "too + adjective compound + to". Don't quote me on adjective compound

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .