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I encountered this passive voice sentence in a textbook: "He was influenced too much by Japanese fashion."

My understanding is that the words "too much" are functioning as an adverb in this sentence.

  • "He was influenced by Japanese fashion too much."

  • "He was influenced too much by Japanese fashion."

However, it seems strange to say, "He was too much influenced by Japanese fashion." I can't understand why it sounds strange to me, however.

If I replace "too much" with a different adverb, it seems to work fine. For example:

  • "He was quickly influenced by Japanese fashion."

  • "He quickly was influenced by Japanese fashion."

  • "He was influenced quickly by Japanese fashion."

  • "He was influenced by Japanese fashion quickly."

To add, if I use "much too" the sentence seems correct. For example, "He was much too influenced by Japanese fashion" sounds correct to me. I understand "too much" modifies nouns, verbs, and adverbs, while "much too" modifies adjectives and adverbs based on this post: "much too [something]" vs "too much [something]"

However, I just can't understand why, "He was too much influenced by Japanese fashion" sounds strange to me.

I think I made a mistake in my thinking. What do you think? Any help is greatly appreciated!

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    Too much + uncountable noun e.g. too much sugar, too much love etc. Too + adjective e.g. too upset, too late, too excited
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 15, 2021 at 6:42
  • Too much influenced seems fine to me. Apr 15, 2021 at 7:48
  • First of all, too much is a quantifier. Second, too much means so much that Not S, where S is some proposition limiting quantity; use of the expression refers to passing that limit. Third, that means it's a negative and it's a quantifier, and that means it's very very idiosyncratic and irregular, and follows its own syntax. Apr 16, 2021 at 2:41
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    You are being influenced by the old-fashioned 'rule' that says that split infinitives should not be used in English. This was taught for about 100 years up to the middle of the last century but was never based on sound principles, it was based on the view that because the infinitives of Latin verbs are single words the two words forming infinitives in English should be regarded as a single unit. It was also applied, though less strictly, to other tenses formed from two words. This is no longer taught but still affects people's thought.
    – BoldBen
    Apr 16, 2021 at 7:50

1 Answer 1

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Usage seems to be the opposite of what your feelings tell you (ngram).

enter image description here

The same results is obtained for "influenced quickly" and "quickly influenced"; only the latter is found (ngram).

enter image description here

"Quickly was influenced" is not found.

There is not really a question of thinking involved, therefore there is no mistake in your thinking. It is rather a matter of apprehension of the language (not comprehension) which does not correspond, here an apprehension of order. It is difficult to say why we sometimes have a different picture from what reality shows things to be; such problems disappear progressively and the judgement becomes dependable in the end. Personally, I wouldn't find that the order you find preferable in the case of the two ngrams is unacceptable, but the order you judge to be incorrect I find normal.

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  • he was influenced too much is found by the Ngram viewer with about the same frequency in modern times as he was too much influenced. However it is only found with a lower-case 'h'.
    – BoldBen
    Apr 16, 2021 at 8:09

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