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Comma before “too”: The Definitive Guide

Comma before “too”: The Definitive Guide

Punctuations provide prosodic cues that convey the intention and tone of texts.

The rhythm of the text can be manipulated by the mastery of punctuation placement, such as commas.

Put simply, sentences without punctuations are like songs without beats while punctuation misplacement is equivalent to a person who could sing, yet hits the wrong notes nonetheless sporadically.

The succeeding information in this blog aims to further elaborate comma usage before the two-faced adverb too.

 

Is a comma necessary before “too”?

In most cases, a comma does not occur before too when it functions as an adverb of degree or intensifier.

However, a comma may be placed before it when it acts as an additive adverbial connector similar to “also” contained in a parenthetical expression.

Moreover, it can also be enclosed with two commas, before and after, when used midsentence as a parenthetical word insertion.

 

Comma before “too”: In-depth analysis

Parenthesis, with the plural form parentheses, is a linguistic device used for rhetoric and persuasion purposes.

These parentheses are essential in further clarifying the information stated by the writer, albeit grammatically dispensable.

The adverb “too” may be utilized in a parenthetical expression either as a single-word unit or as an adjective phrase.

Parentheticals are always enclosed with commas to forewarn the reader that the information is supplementary to the rest of the sentence.

Therefore, a comma placement is strictly necessary before too whenever it serves as a parenthetical component, either as a single-word item or as an introductory word to an adjective phrase.

Comma Before Too

 

Too as a conjunctive adverb parenthetical

Too can either operate as an additive adverbial connector or a degree adverb in parenthetical interruptions.

But, when used as a single-word component, it normally acts as an adverbial connector (a.k.a conjunctive adverb), whose purpose is to underscore the similar weight of two implied items or ideas.

When inserted in the middle of the sentence for emphasis, a comma is needed before too as well as after it.

She, too, despises the notion of “full democracy”.
The physical pain, too, was unbearable.

As an adverbial connector, too may also serve as a replacement to “also”, which belongs under the same speech category.

However, while “also” can either be used to connect two independent clauses or introduce a clause, “too” cannot function in the same manner.

Correct: Also, she likes bungee jumping.
Incorrect: Too, she likes bungee jumping.

Even though adverbs may be positioned three-way in a sentence (beginning, middle, or end), the adverbial connector too may rather appear at the end of the sentence as a parenthetical element.

It is worth noting that the comma before too is optional when it appears at the end due to its weaker interruptive implication as opposed to its midsentence position.

Correct: Aside from science fiction, he finds dark comedy interesting, too. 
Correct: Aside from science fiction, he finds dark comedy interesting too. 

 

Too in an adjective phrase parenthetical

Apart from the previous function, too is also typically used as an adverb of degree when it introduces an adjective phrase in parenthesis.

Adjective phrases contain extra, yet nonessential, information about the subject of the sentence while adverbs of degree denote a certain intensity of the word they modify such as verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.

Comma placement is always mandatory before too and after the last word of the parenthetical phrase to mark the segregation of the expression from the rest of the sentence. 

Sally, too flustered to respond, stood like a statue in his presence.
Proper comma usage, too important to be ignored, is worth-learning!

The adjective phrases used above are just a shortened version of a nonrestrictive adjective clause — a clause introduced by relative pronouns which provides a more detailed description of the sentence subject.

Should a writer opt to write more complete and formal sentences, inserting relative pronouns like who and which before too may also be done.

Sally, who is too flustered to respond, stood like a statue in his presence.
Proper comma usage, which is too important to be ignored, is worth-learning!

 

When is a comma not necessary before too?

A comma is almost unnecessary when we use too in its other main function – adverb of degree referring to a high extent or degree of “x”.

Adverbs of degree are also known as intensifiers, whose function is mainly to add more emotional enhancement to the sentence.

 

Too modifying an adjective

When we use too to modify a neighboring adjective, a comma is not required at all, unless used parenthetically, as elaborated earlier.

The adjective comes after the adverb of degree which is almost always the case, as with slightly, excessively, and a little.

This adverbial position further intensifies the lexical meaning of the adjective being used.

Greg was too astounded at her sight that he swallowed his tongue.
Isn’t your brother too young to be a lawyer?

Although intensifiers normally come before the adjective, they may also be placed after the adjective in special cases like enough.

It’s true enough that he doubted his own son’s legitimacy at first.

 

Too modifying an adverb

On top of adjectives, too could also intensify other adverbs. And when this happens, we do not put a comma before or after it.

Here are a couple of examples of the adverb too modifying other adverbs.

It’s never too late to start learning the guitar.
The accident happened too quickly. I didn’t see it coming.

Intensifiers are used to amplify the meaning of the word or words it modifies and they are important especially in cases when we are at a loss for better vocabulary words to use.

 

Conclusion

An adverb as simple and widely-used as too may have several functions in speech, and comma usage before this adverb can be tricky as well.

However, a decent rule to bear in mind is that comma usage before too is primarily applied at the personal whim of the writer; thus, more arbitrary rather than a hard rule.

Hence, the system of non-lexical symbols, punctuations, exemplifies the meaning of word relations which is utterly crucial in creating a more compelling written text.