It is too good vs. It is so good

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WRONG: Have you seen Despicable Me 3? It is too good.
RIGHT: Have you seen Despicable Me 3? It is so good.

This week’s common mistake focuses on two adverbs of degree – too and so. Both are used to emphasise how much something was good or bad. But their usages differ.

‘So’ is the safe option – you can use it for both positive and negative things. ‘The food was so disgusting’ or ‘Julie Roberts is so pretty.’

Too is only used negatively, and suggests that there should have been less of something. For example, ‘These chips are too salty’ – they would be better if they had less salt. ‘She wears too much mascara’ – she would look more natural with less make-up.

So, if you want to stress that something was good and use ‘too’ it is wrong. A film – like Toy Story – can’t be ‘too good’. You want every film to be the best it can be.

A slight exception to this is when people – often Americans – want to emphasize something ironically, often food or people’s looks. For example, ‘This ice cream is too nice’, or ‘She is too pretty’ mean the speaker can’t believe that something that good can exist. Generally though, I would avoid this!