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Hello teachers! I'd like you to help me with the following sentences, please.

1. She is too beautiful!

2. You are too kind!

3. Would you like to make a donation ?" "I'd be only too pleased ."


I've learnt that "too" can express both a negative meaning and a positive one. For example, it can mean i. "more than is necessary, wanted, acceptable, etc." And it can mean ii. "very" or "extremely" as well.


But, if that's true, how can we know whether it expresses a negative meaning (i) or a positive meaning (ii)?


Thank you!

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Laborioushow can we know whether it expresses a negative meaning (i) or a positive meaning (ii)?

If all you have is a written, isolated sentence, you can't know.

In real life you have a context. You know what the conversation is about. You know to some extent the opinions and the moods of the people participating in that conversation. You can watch the expressions on people's faces. Those factors allow you to make a good guess at the meaning of this kind of expression.

CJ

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LaboriousI've learnt that "too" can express both a negative meaning and a positive one. For example, it can mean i. "more than is necessary, wanted, acceptable, etc." And it can mean ii. "very" or "extremely" as well.

As you suggest, the degree adverb "too" can be an NPI (negatively-oriented polarity-sensitive item) as well as a PPI (positively-oriented polarity sensitive item).

The NPI "too" means "very" , as opposed to the ordinary "too" meaning "excessively". The difference can seen in the ambiguity of this example:

I can't recommend her too highly.

Non-NPI "too" means "It's impossible to overstate her good qualities".

NPI "too" means "I can give only a lukewarm recommendation"


"Too" in the sense "excessively" is a PPI (positively-oriented polarity sensitive item) in, for example

He wasn't too tired to play a couple of games of tennis.

This implicates that he did play, and this positive implicature excludes an NPI interpretation.