Discussion in 'English Only' started by rsmoluch, Feb 24, 2010.
Do we need the comma? If so, why? Do these two sentences have different meanings?
Never saw it with a comma...
A comma is a pause, so it doesn't need the comma at all.
It is unlikely to be pronounced with a comma. The most common use would be spoken with continuous intonation all the way through.
A: I \love you.
B: Aw, I love you \too.
Here the word 'too' has the main accent of the sentence (a falling tone) because it's the main thing you're saying. ('I love you' is in the background because it's already been said).
There are situations where you would put the main accent elsewhere, to show a contrast, and add 'too' as a secondary element. In writing you could mark this with a comma:
I love Alice and Betty and Charlotte. And I love \you, too.
I admire and respect you. And I \love you, too.
That said, it would be nice if people consistently used commas to mark pronunciation like this, but often they don't.
I have seen the phrase written with a comma, but I can't recall where. I do think it looks a little out of place, unless used in the situations described above by entangledbank. The comma suggests (to me, at least) that the speaker feels love for "you" as well as other emotions. Without the comma, I get the sense that "I love you too" is a response to "I love you".
To me the comma is an indicator of the function of the word in the sentence. I think it is important to have it there. Otherwise, I read it as "I love you too..." and my mind says "too what?"
I think it is a generational difference.
I would do the same for:
"I'm hungry, too."
Seelix- Yes, it is in response to I love you. I have a friend who uses the comma, and each time I wonder is there some grammar rule that I am failing to follow?
entangledbank-Thank you very much! Your examples were extremely helpful and make very good sense. One question though, what does the / signify?
JamesM- do you also pause when speaking it? When you read it and thing too what, are you thinking more of "to" rather then "also"? As in "I love you to death"?
I'm indicating the intonation, and I used \ for falling tone. The rising / would be used in yes-no questions: Do you /love me? Yes I \love you. This tone marking is on the most heavily accented syllable in the sentence. Punctuation only very poorly indicates intonation, so it's sometimes useful to show it more clearly.
About 35 years ago, I learned that the comma is necessary.
I learned at my Japanese-junior-high-school's English lesson.
I learned it as a basic grammar of English.
So I'm surprised to see "too without comma".
I agree with JapmesM and feel that "Time has changed."
Thank you, I was not familiar with that.
The OED and the British National Corpus show about evenly mixed results, as far as I can see. The first six uses of final 'too' in Emma have no comma (then I stopped). Google Books unhelpfully gives priority to occurrences in titles, so I can't do a search by decade of the last century.
Certainly, particular styles of comma use are taught at various times and places, but I'm not aware that any of them are more recent than others. Unlike, for example, use of hyphens, which is known to be decreasing.
Searching through Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories online at Project Gutenberg, I only find the ", too." version.
Here is an interesting article from someone who was taught the same "rule" that I was and is running into the same confusion:
To me, the comma before "too" indicates that it modifies the entire sentence. It is similar to the function of "by the way" in this sentence (in my view of things):
"I love you, by the way."
This means something entirely different from:
"I love you by the way."
When I was in school, we were taught that "too" must be set off from the rest of the sentence by a comma (or two commas, as the case might be).
E.g., "I love you, too."
"I think, too, we might try to get there early."
There was never any reason given for this. It was simply convention. Perhaps convention is changing now. I myself often find that a comma is not really necessary.
What does "I love you by the way" mean? Just wondering.
Literally does BTW here mean “during the course of a journey” instead of “incidentally”?
I did, too (60 years ago in Switzerland).
Well, like 7 years ago when i had my first english lessons in school, we learned that a comma is necessary, no matter in which case the word "too" is used.
"I love you, too."
I haven't seen any native english speakers using the comma though.
Also I think the comma gives the sentence a wrong stress and doesn't make it look/sound like a response to "I love you."
I'm not sure though.
In this context I think it means something like
"Ow, I almost forgot to mention that i love you." or "Just happening to let you know I love you."
That's at least the most common usage of "by the way" i think.
But that's not the case, since I was asking the one without a comma, which presumably is different from the one with a comma, which is "I love you, BTW", mostly according to another post in this thread(Please check out the quotations in my previous post for details).
In addition, as I mentioned "incidentally", actually it IS the definition in the sentence which contains a common accompanied with the phrase BTW. Your explanation is like a vivid paraphrase version. It's easy to understand for sure. Just want to clarify that I am aware of this usage in the first place.
The reason I ask the question is that I looked up the phrase on the Internet and I presume probably it has something to do with the definition "during the journey. " e.g. You will have a fine view of Moray Firth by the way.
Still, many thanks!
I was making a poor joke, divingbell. "I love you by the way" sounds like you are making love to the person by the side of the road. "I love you, by the way" means "incidentally", as you thought.
Another (probably equally poor) example would be:
I love you, strangely. (It is strange that I love you.)
I love you strangely. (I demonstrate my love for you in a strange way.)
ok then.. Never mind.
What about indicating the slight difference in oral English? by pausing ?
Thank you Volde, you reminded me at this was more about the word too itself, and that allowed me to do some new searches.
Commas and the Word "Too"
When a sentence or a clause ends with the word too (meaning "also"), the comma preceding the word too is not necessary.
● I would like a piece of cake too.
● If you want to go swimming too, we'll take the van instead of the car.
If the word too (meaning "also") occurs somewhere other than the end of a sentence or a clause, commas should be placed before and after it.
● We, too, have been invited to the Eckharts' party next weekend.
If the word too means "excessively," commas should not be used at all.
● She paid far too much for her new car.
I don't know about you, but I was taught to use a comma before the word too when it comes at the end of a sentence. Apparently the rules have changed!
Personally, I think this idea has been generalized in an odd way. Not all pauses require a comma and not all commas indicate an actual pause when speaking.
Somehow this rule of thumb about how to recognize when a comma should be inserted has been elevated to the primary (or, for some people, the only) reason for commas at all. It reduces the comma's function to a mark that represents a speech pattern rather than an indicator of function or intent in a sentence. I think that's an oversimplification of the comma's role in English.
This is just what I would recommend. This too means "also".
I love you, too.
= "I love you, besides."
or = "I love you, incidentally."
or with the stress on I or you as above, "I love you, also."
I love you too.
= "I love you also."
P.S. In my dialect, a comma always means something in terms of intonation or rhythm. The only thing a comma can do that intonation (sometimes) can't is to distinguish itself from a semicolon or other mark of punctuation.
Separate names with a comma.