Comma Before Too: Should You Use It or Lose It? Image

You’ve most likely come across many a sentence that includes a comma before the word “too,” especially when “too” is used to mean “also” or “as well as.” However, you’ve probably seen just as many that don’t feature that comma, which begs the question: Is the comma before “too” necessary, or not?

As we’ll explain below, the decision to include a comma before “too” depends a lot on the writer’s intention and whether or not they mean to add emphasis to a certain point.

When to Put a Comma Before Too

There aren’t really and hard rules regarding the use of a comma before “too,” only the preferences of the major style guides and a few norms.

Many writers add a comma before the word “too” (when it is intended to mean “also” or “as well”) because that’s how they feel it would sound most natural if read aloud.

Remember that commas are used to indicate brief pauses between words. What would sound more “natural” is largely subjective, and could easily vary between writers depending on how they speak.

However, despite this common stylistic choice, both The Chicago Manual of Style and the MLA Style Center indicate that in most cases, a comma is not needed before the word “too.”

The Chicago Manual’s Rules

According to The Chicago Manual of Style, a comma before too should only be used when the writer wants to emphasize an abrupt change of thought.

When “too” appears in the middle of a sentence, it is almost always intended to add emphasis, since it interrupts the flow of the sentence.

For example:

  • I, too, studied art in college. (Correct)
  • I too studied art in college. (Incorrect)

Note that whenever “too” separates a verb from its object, you must always use commas to separate “too,” like in the sentence, “I see, too, that you have finished all the necessary paperwork.”

When “too” is placed at the end of the sentence, however, Chicago deems a preceding comma unnecessary.

For example:

  • I like to travel too. (Correct)
  • I like to travel, too. (Incorrect)

The Bottom Line

When it comes to adding a comma before “too,” the major style guides have deemed it unnecessary in most cases. However, since commas indicate pauses, one of the best tests is to read your sentence out loud to see if a pause before “too” seems natural or forced.

Commas can bring a lot to the table, especially the Oxford comma (use it!!!), but too many in one sentence can lead to run-ons, comma splices, and awkward structures.

You can also try out proofreading software, like Grammarly or Whitesmoke, which can help catch misplaced or missing commas in your writing.

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