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English is not my mother tonge and I had this argument with a friend the other day. I think that putting the "too" after the subject instead of at the end of the sentence is not correct but he disagrees. Can anybody help me? Thanks a lot!

5

You can say it, but I'd write it like "He, too, wanted to do it." It sounds awkward, though, and I'd actually replace "too" with "also", for "He also wanted to do it."

  • Gnome, so, only awkwardness traces the difference between "also" and "too" as used there, not semantic? – user19148 Jul 25 '13 at 22:23
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A precisian would prefer He, too, wanted to do it if the intention was 'Both he and his friend wanted to do it', since He wanted to do it too might mean 'He wanted both to say it and do it'. But normally there's little to choose between the two.

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The main difference is the emphasis. The normal, which is to say un-emphasized, phrasing is "He wanted to do it too." However, one of the ways in which subtle shades of meaning are obtained in English is by varying word order, causing the word(s) moved to be emphasized.

A classic example is the retort attributed to Winston Churchill's after an editor criticized his word order: "This is nonsense up with which I shall not put!"

  • Piet, can a comma inserted before "too" accentuate the sense of sadness: "He wanted to do it, too." ? – user19148 Jul 25 '13 at 22:15
  • To my ear that just sounds awkward, rather than emphasized. Most writers overuse commas, including myself at times; if you are unsure about a comma just omit it. – Pieter Geerkens Jul 25 '13 at 22:19
  • Piet, yes, I agree. In fact, I, generally speaking, don't use commas, especially when they can be avoided. And, as is well known, I would add that commas are not part of language, though. – user19148 Jul 25 '13 at 22:31
  • @Carlo_R.: That example clearly proves my point. I have only rarely seen a 35 word paragraph that is more tedious to read than that one. – Pieter Geerkens Jul 25 '13 at 22:39
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    @Carlo_R. What "sense of sadness"? – TrevorD Jul 25 '13 at 22:40
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The "too" would need to be isolated by commas to be correct. But commas also represent a pause in speech and sometimes that is the only reason they are used in a sentence. Given that people naturally tend to pause at commas, the "too" on the end gets rid of that longer, more awkward sentence with the pauses. Though both would be understood and neither is "wrong" to any prosecutable degree, I'd stick with the "too" at the end for fluency.

Generally speaking, people don't use enough commas. Or perhaps it is that they don't use them where they are needed. If you read a sentence aloud and put a comma where there would be a natural pause, you should be all right. But far too many people omit the commas and then the meaning of the sentence is obscured. When they read the sentence to themselves, it seems fine. But they forget to realize that the reader may not put the emphasis in the same places without commas for guidance. That is a failed responsibility of the speaker (or writer).

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he too wanted to do something means that he doesn't do anything for that. It is the correct sentence. In Little woman book , it is used as well: she too wanted to do something to help their father.

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