30 May, 2019
In English conversation, when we respond to a speaker, we often do not repeat all of their words. Instead, we may say just a few words. The speaker understands our meaning based on what is being said in the conversation.
You will hear and see examples of this everywhere that English is spoken.
On the American television show The Simpsons, for instance, Bart Simpson is a rebellious youth. He likes to play tricks on others. His favorite person to trouble is Groundskeeper Willie, an unpleasant man who works on the grounds at Bart's school.
Listen to a short exchange between Bart and Willie:
Willie, I've got a girlfriend.
Really? Well, uh, I do, too. She's...a bikini model from Sweden.
Haha, that's great.
Bart walks away, seemingly not believing Willie. But suddenly, Willie's beautiful Swedish girlfriend appears.
You heard Willie say, "I do, too" in response to Bart. English speakers everywhere use short responses like this one in speech and some kinds of writing.
On an earlier Everyday Grammar program, we talked about using the words "so" and "neither" in short responses of agreement. Today, I will talk about "too" and "either."
All four words can be used to say that what is true for some person is also true for us.
The word "too" shows agreement with positive statements. And the word "either" shows agreement with negative statements. You will hear and see examples of both today.
How are they formed?
But first, let's talk about how to form these statements. When we use "too" and "either" to show agreement, they appear at the end.
The structure for "too" is:
Subject + Auxiliary / Be + Too
Auxiliary verbs are helping verbs that do things like help form verb tenses. The verbs "do," "be" and "have," for example, can act as auxiliary verbs or main verbs, depending on how they are used.
In Willie's statement "I do, too," the word "I" is the subject and "do" is the auxiliary. "Too" comes at the end and, in written form, often follows a comma.
The structure for "either" is:
Subject + Auxiliary / Be + Either
If Bart had said, "I don't have a girlfriend" and that was also true for Willie, his response could have been, "I don't either."
When we use "too" and "either" this way, the verb tense in the response matches the verb tense in the original statement.
I do, too / I don't either
Let's look at the simple present verb tense first and I will show you what I mean.
We can say "I do, too" and "I don't either" to agree with statements in the simple present tense.
Listen to an exchange between speakers:
She speaks a second language.
I do, too.
She doesn't speak a second language.
I don't either.
Note that the auxiliary verb "do" is used in simple present tense in the responses.
I am, too / I'm not either
But when the main verb is "be," we do not use an auxiliary verb.
To agree with simple present statements when the main verb is "be," we can say, "I am, too" and "I'm not either."
Listen to this exchange:
Ivan is an international student.
I am, too.
Ivan is not an international student.
I'm not either.
Pay close attention to this next one.
We also say "I am, too" and "I'm not either" to agree with statements in the present continuous verb tense. This verb tense is sometimes called "be + -ing."
Jocelyn is going to the antique show.
I am, too.
Jocelyn isn't going to the antique show.
I'm not either.
Here, the verb "be" acts as an auxiliary verb. The main verb is "go" and it's in the -ing form.
I did, too / I didn't either
Now, we will move to the simple past tense.
We can say, "I did, too" and "I didn't either" to agree with statements in the simple past tense.
Let's hear how our speakers use them:
We watched The Simpsons yesterday.
I did, too.
We didn't watch The Simpsons yesterday.
I didn't either.
I was, too / I wasn't either
And, lastly, we can say, "I was, too" and "I wasn't either" to agree with simple past statements when the main verb is "be."
Here's what our speakers say:
I was happy about the book deal.
I was, too.
I wasn't happy about the book deal.
I wasn't either.
You can find examples with other verb tenses as well as modal auxiliary verbs on our website: testbig.com.
And now for a few closing thoughts.
You might be wondering about the expressions "Me too" to respond to positive statements and "Me neither" to respond to negative statements. In English, these expressions are very informal but, in everyday conversation, completely acceptable.
Another thing to note is that "too," "either," "so" and "neither" are not just for responses. Sometimes one speaker can state two or more agreeing ideas. For example:
Pene was happy about the book deal. I was, too.
Well, that's all for today. Listen and watch for these short responses everywhere you hear and see English being used.
If you like watching The Simpsons, for instance, you'll find lots of examples.
I'm Alice Bryant.
Alice Bryant wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
We use short responses of agreement with most verb tenses and some modal verbs. Below are a few examples.
Use "have" or has" for present perfect
They have been to Cartagena.
They haven't been to Cartagena.
Use "will" or "won't" for simple future
Ivone will return the clothes tomorrow.
Ivone won't return the clothes tomorrow.
For modal verbs, repeat just the modal ("would" "can" "should" and others)
I would enjoy playing an instrument.
I wouldn't enjoy playing an instrument.
She can stand on her hands.
She can't stand on her hands.
Words in This Story
respond – v. to say or write something as an answer to a statement, question or request
conversation – n. an informal talk involving two people or a small group of people : the act of talking in an informal way
positive – adj. showing or expressing support, approval, or agreement
negative – adj. expressing denial or refusal
comma – n. a punctuation mark used to separate words or groups of words in a sentence
match – v. to be equal to
antique – n. art, furniture or jewelry that was made at an earlier time and is often valuable
modal / modal auxiliary – n. a verb that is usually used with another verb to express ideas such as possibility, necessity, and permission