Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Are the following sentences correct? Do they all mean the same thing?

She talks so much.

She talks too much.

She talks a lot.

She talks very much.

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

'She talks so much' and 'She talks a lot' are pretty much interchangeable. They are both simply observations without much judgement.

She talks too much is an observation along with judgement – she ought to talk less.

She talks very much is not a full sentence an AmE speaker is likely to say – don't know about other areas. The only time we're likely to say these words in that order is when followed by a mention of some topic, for example:

She talks very much about saving the children in Uganda.

share|improve this answer
    
I agree that 'very much' is not a likely sequence, not because it needs to be followed by a topic, but because it should be used negatively: "She doesn't talk very much' is fine to me but the 4th OP example is not. Also (possibly irrelevantly) 'very' is becoming obsolete (in AmE) like 'quite', that is, 'a lot', 'pretty', 'really', 'real' are more common. –  Mitch Apr 9 '12 at 2:52
    
@Mitch: The only reason "very much" is slightly odd here is because we usually only use this form in positive statements, and we usually don't think well of any "level" (high or low) of talking sufficiently notable that we're driven to pass comment on it. –  FumbleFingers Apr 9 '12 at 3:10
1  
-1: I don't think 'She talks so much' and 'She talks a lot' would ordinarily be classified as simple observations. In particular, so much means to such a degree that I'm moved to pass comment. This almost always implies either praise or condemnation, depending on the particular thing being commented upon. –  FumbleFingers Apr 9 '12 at 4:54

In OP's context it's probably specious to postulate even a subtle difference in meaning - they all strongly imply that in the speaker's opinion, she talks excessively.

But change the verb to "She loves me..." and most people would interpret only too much as meaning excessively. All the others would be seen as positive statements.

I can't think of any context where so much and very much aren't semantically interchangeable, but the former is definitely more informal.

Some verbs don't seem to work very well with a lot - I'm not keen on "She hates me a lot", for example, but "She argues a lot" seems fine to me.

Note that "She talks very much" is slightly odd, primarily because very much is usually used in "positive" contexts such as "She loves him very much".

TL;DR: There can be differences, but probably not with OP's exact examples.

share|improve this answer
    
I'm not sure I can agree that "she talks a lot" implies anything strongly or that it means excessively. It could simply be a comparison relative to others but still not be deemed to be "too much." –  Jim Apr 9 '12 at 6:41
    
@Jim: We can only agree to differ there. I think if you mention her talkativeness at all, you're almost certainly being critical (if not, it would be hypocritical, in that you should probably say less yourself! :) –  FumbleFingers Apr 9 '12 at 11:14

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.