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Which are the differences in meaning and usage between the two expressions "much too [something]" and the most common "too much [something]"? Are they completely interchangeable?

i.e.: "much too wise" vs "too much wise"

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Surely that's much too [something], not simply much too? –  Andrew Leach Feb 17 '13 at 19:20
yes, much too [something] vs too much [something] –  Kiron Feb 17 '13 at 19:26
Too much is a constituent, but much too isn't. "How much?" "Too much." vs "*Much too." The much in much too strong means by a large margin, and it modifies the whole phrase too strong. Whereas too much simply means overfull, and can only quantify volumes (i.e, you can say too much coffee or too much food, but you can't say *too much hot or *too much full. –  John Lawler Feb 17 '13 at 19:33
Yes - as a quantifier, too much ... = an excess of ..., needing a noun group (so, for example, too much aspirin) whereas much too ... is a secondary modifier, of an adjective or adverb (eg much too heavy, much too slowly). –  Edwin Ashworth Feb 17 '13 at 19:40

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Too much modifies a noun and a verb, and much too modifies an adjective or adverb.

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@Kiron. Yes, quite right, adverbs too. –  Barrie England Feb 17 '13 at 19:50
And too much says that some limit is exceeded, but not necessarily greatly exceeded; whereas much too says that some limit is greatly exceeded. –  Colin Fine Feb 17 '13 at 22:26

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