The words enough and too are easy to understand, but many students fail to use them correctly. Or, even if they are correct, they may be unnatural. I've heard too many mistakes, and I've had enough! It's time to master too and enough.
If you have enough money, but not enough time (or vice versa); or your house is too small and your neighbors too loud; or you eat too much and have too many chips before bed; then you'll need to use the words "enough" and/or "too" to describe it.
Enough and too are words that indicate the degree to which something is true. They can modify adjectives, adverbs, nouns and verbs. The rules for how and when to use these modifiers are pretty simple.
The word "enough" means that there's a sufficient amount or degree of something. Conversely, if the amount is insufficient, then there's "not enough".
A. Is your tea hot enough?
B. Yes, but there's not enough milk in it.
Easy, right? But why is the word "enough" after the word "hot", but before the word "milk"? Well, where it goes in the sentence depends on the word it modifies. Enough goes—
- after an adjective, adverb or verb; but
- before a noun.
A. I'm going to need some coffee to stay awake long [adverb] enough to finish tonight.
B. There's not enough coffee [noun] in the world to keep me awake—I'm exhausted!
A. Maybe if it's strong [adjective] enough?
B. Not possible. Anyway, I've worked [verb] enough for today. I'll get up early tomorrow morning and do the rest.
A. Okay, but you'd better finish it! The boss will not be happy if we miss the deadline.
"Too" indicates that the amount or degree of something is more than sufficient. Too goes—
- before an adjective, adverb or noun; but
- after a verb.
A. Be quiet! You're talking too loud [adverb].
B. Sorry, there was too much noise [uncountable noun] at the party last night, and now I can't hear.
A. I went to that party, but there were too many people [countable noun], so I left.
B. I wish I had! I drank [verb] too much, so besides being deaf, I also have a hangover.
C. That's too bad [adjective]. I hope you feel better soon.
Notice that when you use too with a noun, you must add "much" or "many", depending on if the noun is countable or uncountable*:
- too much noise [uncountable noun]
- too many people [countable noun]
When modifying a verb, you also have to add "much":
A. I drank too much.
B. I ate too much.
What do you have enough of? Not enough of? Too much or many of? Use the words and phrases to talk about your own situation. As for me, I have enough time but not enough money, I worry too much, my neighbors are too loud and I have too many chips before bed.
*See the blog post "Guide to using many, much and a lot" for more on countable and uncountable nouns.