Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you heard “so much” and “too much” used in English conversations?

Does this seem like one of those phrases where the differences are subtle and therefore you are unsure of which to use?

This is a very common mistake, though if you use it incorrectly it can come off as a glaring mistake.

We’re going to look at which one to use when, what type of connotation each one has, and how to differentiate to take your English speaking up a notch.

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We have a question from a listener from Venezuela, and this points to a very common source of confusion between the phrases “so much” and “too much.”

Hi ladies,

I love your show! I’m wondering if you can help me by answering a question.

What is the difference between so much and too much? How do you use them in everyday English conversation?


It May Seem Like A Subtle Difference But It’s Not

When you really look at the difference between “so much” and “too much” it may seem so subtle and therefore be confusing why it’s such a big deal.

To a native, the difference is obvious and they may not understand why it’s hard to use the right phrase.

It may be obvious that these don’t mean the same thing to a native.

If you are not a native, this may be confusing to you though and they may not seem that similar.

This seems subtle enough, but you want to be sure to use each one in the right way.

Using these simultaneously is a very common mistake for non natives, because they seem so much alike.

Too much is not a lot, but it’s very common to think that.

There are certain mistakes that may flag you as a non native English speaker, and you want to be sure you are aware of them and avoid them.

You want to be careful to avoid such mistakes because they can be glaring–and this is one of them.

These are really great lessons to learn because they can be glaring if you don’t use the right term at the right time.

This is a great way to take your English learning up a notch and to really focus on having the right term to use in each situation.

Using So Much In Your Conversations

You have probably heard people use the phrase “so much” in their conversations.

You may wish to use this, but feel a bit unsure of when it works well.

When you say so much, it’s not necessarily negative or positive, it just means a lot.

It depends on the context around it as to what it means, but it is often used in a more positive way in many instances.

“I have so much to do.” This can be negative because it may mean that you are stressed out.

“I have so much great stuff to look forward to.” This can be positive

“I have so much fresh fruit in my refrigerator.” This is how it can be used in a more tangible way.

“There are so many trees in Portland.” These are countable plural nouns, and so it works really well here.

If you can avoid much or many, then it can be easier as you are learning the language.

If you have doubt that’s normal, and you can just go with what is easier.

If you are unsure of which to use, then just go with “a lot.”

You can go with loads, tons, or mountains as a great paraphrase option.

“I have loads of books.” This is a positive, and it can work really well in conversation though it is more of a British term.

“I have tons of work this weekend.” Tons is more of an American term and you might hear it used often, to talk about something that is plentiful or a larger quantity.

So much or so many are not necessarily good or bad, but just means a lot.

Understanding How To Use Too Much The Right Way

Now switching over to “too much”, this tends to be negative.

This typically means more than is desired or more than you want.

This has a more negative connotation associated with it, and you can hear it that way when used in conversation.

“I have too much to do today.” This may feel like it’s a thankless or endless task.

“I bought too many bananas and I can’t use them all.” You don’t like to waste, and so this would indicate that may happen.

“I ate way too much at Thanksgiving dinner.” You overate and now you probably feels uncomfortable.

It seems like a small difference, but it’s actually a really important one.

In native conversation, this is hugely different and so you want to be aware of that.

How else can you say too much or too many?

  • Serfant: An excessive amount, which is more than you want or need. “There are a serfant of ants in my cupboard.” “There is a serfant amount of food and drink at the party.”
  • Surplus: This is used in more of a positive way, and it can be used to talk about a good overage. You may have too much of a product, and then you would talk about this as a surplus. It’s more of a positive challenge!

There are so many great vocabulary words and phrases around this topic, but you can start to use some of these.

This is a great way to talk about having too much of something in a unique way.


This is a situation where something may not sound like a big difference to you in conversation, but natives will notice if you make this mistake.

One is used in more of a positive way and one is used in more of a negative way, and so you want to really be in tune to this.

If you can’t figure out which to use, then you can always go with “a lot” as a great option that fits almost any situation.

As you practice and really start to use “so much” and “too much” then you will eventually get it right.

Give yourself time and patience as you figure out which one works best in each situation.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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