I'm trying to explain the subtle difference between "too" and "so" in the following sentence (from a child's book) to someone whose first language is not English. But I'm struggling.

"That's not my fairy, her dress is too shiny" "That's my fairy, her wand is so sparkly"

How would I explain this difference?

  • whose, not who's. Oct 27 '18 at 13:52
  • This is the one place on the internet where grammatical mistakes are a sin.
    – Aasim Azam
    Nov 21 '18 at 13:03

too adverb 1 (as submodifier) To a higher degree than is desirable, permissible, or possible; excessively. ‘he was driving too fast’ - ODO

so adverb 1 (as submodifier) To such a great extent. ‘the words tumbled out so fast that I could barely hear them’ - ODO

The essential difference is that too carries the notion of being excessive while so simply conveys the notion of a great extent.

  • "That dress is too too pretty." "That dress is so so pretty."
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 21 '18 at 13:12
  • @HotLicks What do you think of the train, kiddo? Too too sounds so so. :)
    – Lawrence
    Nov 22 '18 at 0:37
  • I think I can understand what you're saying. I think I can.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 22 '18 at 2:35
  • @HotLicks Nice one. :D
    – Lawrence
    Nov 22 '18 at 7:06

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