I got this question in one of my mock tests for an exam. screenshot

Click on the image to enlarge

She was too startled at first saying something, but finally she blurted out the truth.

The website correctly points out that to say must be used in the place of saying. But I feel that something should also be replaced with anything. I feel that we need an extra word (probably adjective) after something and before the comma for the sentence to be correct.

She was too startled to say something smart, but finally blurted out the truth.

Even that doesn't sit well with the second part of the sentence.

Using anything feels much better. Am I wrong?

  • 1
    I'd mark C wrong and A correct. Apr 7, 2021 at 16:02
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    I don't like cut-and-pasted exam questions (which are really not for this site) but especially don't like 7 or lower fonts. Geesus.
    – Lambie
    Apr 7, 2021 at 16:13
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    @Lambie That's why I had typed the details below the picture.
    – xax
    Apr 7, 2021 at 16:17
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    You left out the verb say in your sentence with the paragraph mark, and it's "Even that doesn't sit well etc."
    – Lambie
    Apr 7, 2021 at 16:23
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    And, fyi, you can put this structure in your mental closet: too [adjective] to [verb], as a general proposition. And something and anything are slightly different. anything is slightly more negative as it is often used with negative verbs: I didn't say anything.
    – Lambie
    Apr 7, 2021 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


Following many decades of native English usage, I can tell you that both A and C would be considered correct. If anything A is more correct than C. "Anything" is more usually used rather than "something" in negative contexts:

I did not say anything.

is preferred over

I did not say something.

But your sentence isn't quite the same, and everybody I know would consider "too started to say something" to be unquestionably acceptable.

Given that the focus of the explanation is on "to" versus "too", but there is no option that includes a "too", I wonder if there is a mistake in the question and either answer A or C was meant to read "too say something/anything".

TLDR: If your exam is testing your ability to speak formally correct English like a native, then A should be a correct answer, probably along with C.

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