Look at the sentences below:
John is very thin.
John is too thin.
In the sentence: John is very thin. We are describing John as a very thin person. There is not a problem. Maybe John is someone who has a thin body and doesn’t gain weight.
But in the second sentence: John is too thin. We are giving information that there is a problem because John is thin. Maybe he is thin and he doesn’t look healthy.
Look at the pictures below of Yuan Yuan, our terrific model and ESL student!
In the first picture, the sentence below it reads: The coat is very big. There is not a problem. The student is holding up a big coat.
But in the second picture, the sentence below it reads: The coat is too big. There is problem. The coat does not fit the student.
Here is another example:
His pants are very loose. (No Problem – Maybe he thinks loose pants are comfortable.)
His pants are too loose. (PROBLEM! – Maybe his pants will fall off because they are loose.)
Often with “too” you will see the pattern: too + adjective/adverb + infinitive
I was too tired to finish my homework. (problem – Because I am tired (adjective), I can’t finish my homework.)
She is walking too slowly to catch the bus. (problem – Because she is walking slowly (adverb), she will not be able to catch the bus.
If you would like to practice “too” vs. “very”, click on the links below:
(Remember “too” means there is a problem.)