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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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