This is what I learned from Grammar Book.

We use "too" for negative things and "so" fr both positive and negative things.

Correct: This coffee is too hot (bad thing). I can not drink it.

Correct: This coffee is so hot (bad thing). I can not drink it.

Wrong: She is too beautiful (good thing). I want to have a date with her.

Correct: She is so beautiful (good thing). I want to have a date with her.

But, I feel sometimes American people say "too" for good things. But I am not so sure.

Do people say "too" to refer positive things in American English?

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    I don't know where you are getting your information but it is not right. Who says: She is too beautiful is "not right"? She's too beautiful. That can be dangerous.
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 17:36
  • In colloquial American English, people sometimes use 'too' like this, to emphatically contradict a negative statement - Boy: I don't smoke. Girl: you do too smoke! I saw you with a cigarette last week. Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 20:32
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    @MichaelHarvey That "too" is a different word that happens to be spelled the same. It means something similar to "so". The OP is asking about "too" meaning something like "excessively".
    – gotube
    Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 22:31
  • @Lambie in Topnotch books (I can't remember which one) it says "too" is often used for negative purposes than positive. and compares it with "so" which has a positive tone.
    – user141755
    Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 15:09
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    @user48 Maybe so but that does not mean the OP has not been misled. So beautiful=ah, incredible. too beautiful=it cannot be that she is so beautiful. In fact, there is an idiom: too [adjective] for words.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 15:20

2 Answers 2


Yes. When "too" is used as an adjective like this, it means an excess. "This coffee is too hot." "Bob is too slow." Etc.

Note that you could use it to mean a positive thing in a non-literal, ironic way. Like, "Oh, since I got this new job I am just TOO rich."

"So" is usually used for positive things. "She is so beautiful." "This coffee tastes so good." Etc.

But I think it's rather uncommon for English speakers to say "so" today. Usually we say "very" or "extremely" or some other word.

There's a very different use of "too" to mean "also". Like, "I got a hamburger, and fries too." "She is very beautiful, and smart too." Etc.

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    Bob is very tall. He can clean the eaves without a ladder. Bob is too tall. He keeps banging his forehead against the doorframe.
    – EllieK
    Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 18:40
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    I think the rule is, "you can only use 'too' for a positive thing if you have a feather boa and cigarette holder, and the sentence also includes 'dahling.'" Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 21:12
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    @AndyBonner That's too funny! Commented Mar 11, 2022 at 3:03

The word "too" used in this way means an excess, and it is certainly possible to have too much of a good thing--the phrase "too much of a good thing" is itself an example. The use of "too" in this context often turns a good quality into a bad one. The statement "You are too nice" can be a warning to the listener that other people take advantage of them. From your example, to call someone "too beautiful" can indicate envy on the part of the speaker or vanity on the part of the subject.

There are examples of "too" not turning a good quality bad. If I say "You are too kind," after receiving aid, then I am emphasizing the kindness, the unexpected quantity of it, and my thankfulness.

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