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Intermediate level

'Too' or 'as well'?

Episode 200128 / 28 Jan 2020

This week's question

What's the difference between 'too' and 'as well'? - Ruben

Answer this

Both too and as  well can be used to mean 'also'. But what can as well do that too can't?

Language points

Too - more than needed
Too is an adverb that sits in front of other adjectives and adverbs. It means 'more than needed' or 'more than necessary' in a negative way i.e. having this much is a bad thing. We can modify too using words like 'a little', 'somewhat' or 'much'.

  • I'm too tired!
  • The food is too hot.
  • This chair is too heavy
  • I'm a little too tired.
  • This chair is much too heavy.

Too - quantity
We can use too + noun to talk about a quantity or how much of something there is. We use too + much / many / little / few. The meaning is still negative.

  • There were too many people at the party so I couldn't dance.
  • There were also too few chairs, so I couldn't sit down either!

Too - consequences
We can use too + an infinitive verb to talk about the consequences of something being 'more than needed'. 

  • This chair is too heavy to lift!
  • There were too many people to dance.

Too - also
Too can mean 'also' or 'in addition'. When used this way, it usually goes at the end of a clause or sentence. In this way, too is often used in short answers.

  • My family is coming to dinner and my friends are coming too!
  • A: I want pizza for dinner!    B: Me too!

As well - also
As well is an adverbial phrase that means 'in addition' or 'also'. It usually goes at the end of a clause or sentence. We can also include a further noun with as well by using the preposition as: as well + as + another noun.

  • My family is coming to dinner and my friends are coming as well!
  • My family is coming to dinner and my friends  as well as my dog.

As well - other uses 1
As well
can also be used with 'might' and 'may' to produce might as well and may as well. These mean that something is 'probably worth doing because nothing else is happening'.

  • There's no one home this evening so I might as well go to the cinema.
  • If the car doesn't run, you may as well sell it!

As well - other uses 2
We can combine as well with 'just' to make just as well. This means 'it's probably a good thing given the circumstances'. 

  • It's just as well I hadn't cooked dinner, because my friend brought over a pizza!

The answer

As  well can be followed by the preposition 'as' to include a futher noun. Too cannot.

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