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Difference Between: Too vs. Also

Too (tuː) and also (ɔːlsoʊ) are both adverbs that mean ‘in addition’. The difference is their position in the sentence. Adding extra information – e.g. Jamie bought some milk. He bought some bread too. Or Jamie bought some milk. He also bought some bread.  Adding emphasis – e.g. Emma can play the guitar. She can play the piano too. Or Emma can play the guitar. She can also play the piano.

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Too or Also?

Too and also mean the same in most contexts. Whether we want to use them to add additional information or emphasise something, the main difference between them is their position in the sentence. Too mostly comes at the end of a sentence, whereas also often comes before the main verb:

  • Sally told her daughter to put on suntan lotion. She also told her to wear sunglasses.
  • Sally told her daughter to put on suntan lotion. She told her to wear sunglasses too.

In both sentences, we use too and also to add an extra idea to the first one. The same position rules apply when we want to express emphasis:

  • Ali has a report to finish. He has a lot of meetings too.
  • Ali has a report to finish. He also has a lot of meetings.

In these sentences, we want to express that Ali has a lot of work by adding extra items to his workload. Despite the change in meaning, the word position remains the same.

Another reason we use too and also is to talk about similarity – often to show that people feel the same or want to do the same thing. Again, the word positions are the same:

  • Joan wants an ice cream, and Michael wants one too.
  • Joan wants an ice cream, and Michael also wants one.

The word position for too in these situations is easy – it always goes at the end. However, also is a bit trickier. We said that also comes before the main verb, but sometimes it might be difficult to decide what the main verb is! The main verb is the action in the sentence, and we put also before this one. If there is an auxiliary verb (an extra verb we use to make a tense or mood), it goes after it. Here are some examples of also in the correct and incorrect position:

  • Ed sent you an email. He also sent you a text message. (correct)
  • Ed sent you an email. He sent you also a text message. (incorrect)

Sent is the action, so also needs to go before it.

  • Scarlet will go to France next month. She will also go to Italy in June. (correct)
  • Scarlet will go to France next month. She also will go to Italy in June. (incorrect) 

Will is a verb, but it’s not the action verb, which is sent.

In British English, we put also in this position most of the time. However, in American English, they put also at the end of a sentence as well:

  • British English: Rob is tired, and he is also (correct)
  • American English: Rob is tired, and he is hot also. (correct)

Speaking (too) and writing (also)

Another thing to consider when using too and also is whether you are speaking or writing. In written English, it is more common to use also:

  • The flood destroyed many farmers’ crops. It also damaged shops and houses.

When writing, it is common to see also at the beginning of a sentence followed by a comma:

  • It is necessary to carry out further tests on this product. Also, please inform me when these tests have been completed. 

In written English, we use phrases such as, In addition, moreover, additionally and furthermore as synonyms for also. These all go at the beginning of the sentence followed by a comma – e.g. Furthermore, please inform me when...

Too is more often used in spoken English. It is also worth talking about another similar adverb to also and too here: as well. When we want to use too to add extra information, similarity or emphasis, we can use as well. To make things easy, as well goes at the end of a sentence (like too):

  • Jill says she’s thinking about quitting her job too.
  • Jill says she’s thinking about quitting her job as well.

As well is also much more common in spoken English than in writing.

Too and also before adjectives

It is possible to use too and also before adjectives. In these instances, there can be a difference in meaning and sentence position.

As we said earlier, we can use also and too (and as well) to talk about similarity – to show that people feel the same way or want to do the same action. It is common to have an adjective in this type of sentence:

  • Greg was falling asleep in the cinema. Rebecca was also bored of the film.
  • Greg was falling asleep in the cinema. Rebecca was bored of the film too.
  • Greg was falling asleep in the cinema. Rebecca was bored of the film as well.

The adjective in these sentences is bored. Notice that we put also before the adjective, but we put too (and as well) at the end of the sentence.

The most common phrase you will here in spoken English to express similarity or agreement is ‘me too’:

Speaker A: I like chocolate cake.
Speaker B: Me too!

One other thing about too and word position: it is possible that you will see it in the same position as also when expressing similarity or agreement:

  • I too think that we should have more flexible hours. (correct – very formal)
  • I also think that we should have more flexible hours. (correct – most common)
  • I as well think that we should have more flexible hours. (incorrect)

In his instance, too comes before the main verb. However, it is a very formal use of too in this way. We can never put as well in this position.

Only too

There is another instance when we only use too before an adjective. This is when too has the same meaning as another adverb: excessively – e.g. It’s too hot to go outside means the same as It’s excessively hot to go outside. When too means ‘an excess or too much of something’, it moves position – it goes before the adjective:

  • Helen’s son was too excited about Christmas to go to sleep.
  • The house was too expensive for John and Lynn to buy.
  • Rick thought the film was too violent for the children.

We can also use the excessive too before nouns with many or much:

  • There was no space to move in the train because there were too many
  • The billionaire thought there was no such thing as too much
  • The employees complained that they had too much work to do.
  • There were too many options for Troy to make a decision.
Many native English speakers also confuse too (tuː) with the preposition to (tuː). They might say The exam is to difficult, which should be The exam is too difficult. This is probably because they sound exactly the same. However, we mostly use to for these reasons: to form the infinitive – e.g. I need to study more or before a destination – e.g. I am going to the shop.

All these meanings and sentence positions are a bit confusing, so here’s a table to summarise them:

Use / positionToo (mostly used in speaking)Also (mostly used in writing)
Extra informationAt the end: We went to the zoo. We ate lunch there too. (same for as well)Before the action verb: We went to the zoo. We also ate lunch there.
EmphasisAt the end: I have a horse, and I have five dogs too. (same for as well)Before action verb: I have a horse, and I also have five dogs.
SimilarityAt the end: Brad likes pizza too. (same for as well)Before action verb: Brad also likes pizza.
Before an adjective (similarity)At the end: Dan is interested in the course too. (same for as well)Before adjective: Dan is also interested in the course.
Before an adjective or noun (excess)Before adjective: The table is too dirty to eat on.                        _

What does too mean?

Adverb: ‘in addition to what was said previously’.

Synonyms: moreover, furthermore, also, as well, additionally.

Set expressions: too little too late, too many cooks spoil the broth, go too far, too good to be true.

Additional meanings:

  • Adverb for emphasis – e.g. Henry has to look after the children, and he has a pile of housework to do too.
  • Adverb to express similarity in feeling or action – e.g. The kids would like to go to the park this weekend too.
  • Adverb to express excess or too much of something – e.g. Don’t put your shoes on! They’re still too

Examples with too in a sentence:

  • If you go to the zoo on Saturday, can you take my kids too?
  • Jane has 7 cats! She’s got 3 dogs too!
  • I love horror films and my wife does too.
  • This bike is too rusty to fix.
  • John got angry and quit his job! He’s gone too far this time.

What does also mean?

Adverb: ‘in addition to what was said previously’.

Synonyms: moreover, furthermore, too, as well, additionally.

Set expressions: also known as (AKA).

Additional meanings:

  • Adverb for emphasis – e.g. Henry has to look after the children, and he also has a pile of housework to do.
  • Adverb to express similarity in feeling or action – e.g. The kids would also like to go to the park this weekend.

Examples with also in a sentence:

  • When we went to London, we also visited Cambridge.
  • Jane has 7 cats and she also has 3 dogs!
  • I love going to the gym, but I also love eating chocolate!
  • If you’re watch the Liverpool match on Sunday, I’m also
  • Marshall Mathers is also known as

Quiz: Too or also?

You too will be a master of also and too after completing this quiz! Don’t worry, it’s not too difficult. Also, you need to think about when you can use as well. Use British English, unless asked specifically about American usage.

  1. In American English, you can use _______ at the end of a sentence, but in British English, you only use _______ at the end of a sentence.
    a. both also and too / too
    b. also / too
    c. both also and too / also
  2. The campers pitched their tents and cooked their dinner. They _______ had some time to relax.
    a. as well
    b. also
  3. The restaurant had fish, beef, pork and chicken dishes. They had vegan options ________.
    a. both too and as well
    b. also
  4. Jack: I think we should take more action to stop climate change.
    Fiona: Me _________!
    a. also
    b. too
  5. Frank _________ agrees that we shouldn’t invite Tim to the party.
    a. also
    b. both too and as well
  6. The teachers were unhappy with their salary. The cleaners were _________tired of being underpaid.
    a. also
    b. too
  7. The farmer’s children were starving, but the animals were hungry _______.
    a. also
    b. both too and as well
  8. Kim’s bed was ________ hard to sleep on.
    a. also
    b. too
    c. both too and as well
  9. The organisers thought there were ________ problems for the concert to go ahead.
    a. also
    b. as well
    c. too much
    d. too many
  10. The plumber had already spent_________ time fixing the leaky tap.
    a. also
    b. as well
    c. too much
    d. too many

Answers: 

  1. a)
  2. b)
  3. a)
  4. b)
  5. a)
  6. a)
  7. b)
  8. b)
  9. d)
  10. c)
Click here to download this post via our mobile website!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
Sam S.
— ESL Tutor.
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