What’s the Difference Between “Too” and “Also”?

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Gaby Beitler writes:

I am confused when to use the word too and when to use also. For example, “he likes ice cream too” and “he also likes ice cream” mean the same thing.

In conversation both words, too and also, are used interchangeably with the sense of “in addition”:

Our friends went too.
Our friends went also.

In such a sentence the too at the end is felt to be more natural than the also. The word also is more likely to go before the verb:

Our friends also went.

The use of too in the sense of “in addition” is not confined to the end of a sentence:

I, too, believe that children are more intelligent than they are given credit for.

They, too, wanted to see the movie.

The word too can be used to modify adjectives:
This coffee is too hot to drink. Here the sense of too is “to a higher degree than is desirable.”

The word also can have the meaning “in the same manner as something else.”

Few young people read Scott anymore. George Eliot is also neglected in today’s school curriculum.

In conversation it doesn’t matter whether you use too or also, or where either falls in the sentence.

In writing it’s a good idea to give some thought to how the words are being used, and to how often you use them.

Here, from my trusty Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus, are some alternatives for too and also used with the meaning “in addition”:

as well
in addition
into the bargain
on top of that
what’s more
to boot

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11 thoughts on “What’s the Difference Between “Too” and “Also”?”

  1. “In conversation it doesn’t matter whether you use too or also, or where either falls in the sentence.” Oh I think it does, particularly if it sounds unidiomatic. If you say, “We’re going to the cinema,” and the response is “Can I come also?” you know the speaker’s English is not native. Come to that, at least here in Britain, the most common response would be “Can I come as well?”

    On another point may I exhale a loud scream at your writing ‘anymore’ as one word? I’m not aware that it has passed into acceptable use (and why should it?). Another demon, even while the fight at the barricades rages fiercely against the vile ‘alright’.

  2. Tony,
    Forgive me for contributing to a spike in your blood pressure. I don’t see anything wrong with “anymore” as one word. But then, I’m American.

    Here’s what the experts at the OED have to say about it:

    The tendency to fuse fixed expressions is more common in American than British English. In American English someday has now become more or less standard, substantially outnumbering occurrences of some day; anymore and underway look set to follow. Although the same trend is apparent in British English, it tends to lag behind.

  3. John,
    “Can I also come?” doesn’t sound quite idiomatic these days, but I see nothing wrong with it grammatically.

    Milton writes
    “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

  4. i think:

    too is used to add someone who also do the same thing

    e.g A says to B: I love you.
    B says: I love you too.

    A: nice to meet you.
    B: nice to meet you too.

    Whereas also is used to add something that the same person do.
    Hockey is my favorite game. I also like football.

    Both are used to “add” but too adds someone/something in a list that contains a common job while also is used to add jobs that the same person etc do all.

  5. I can’t wait until my husband wakes up this morning. Last night he asked me (notice He was the one to ask for My help) what the difference was between the 2 words also and too and I tried to tell him that unless he was writing the next novel of the century, I didn’t think there was one. He will not be happy with this article and will try to find one that agrees with him. Too bad!
    Happy Housewife Mary Lou

  6. I still have a question: a friend of mine still says “I would like to come also” I have to go to the bathroom also” is that correct? And then she will say “I hope we get to see you sometimes” is there supposed to be a plural for sometime??

  7. Moreover, I think that ‘also’ usually stresses on the subject whereas ‘too’ usually emphasises the object in a sentence. But again, that’s just, simply, how I understand the subject under discussion.

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