I am trying to say: "This homework is too long/big"

I just learned about the existence of すぎる at http://www.learn-japanese-adventure.com/sugiru.html

Is it correct to use it with とても? For example:

この しゅくだい は とても おおきすぎます。

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    You may like to use 多{おお}い instead of 大きい when referring to homework. – sazarando Jul 4 '16 at 1:08
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    Interesting.. how come 「とても/すごく/たいへん/ひじょうに + adj. すぎる」 sounds incorrect (at least to my ear) but many people actually use 「すごく adj. すぎる」「むちゃくちゃ adj. すぎる」 etc? Maybe it's limited to colloquial conversation? (By the way, do you say "... is very too big" etc. in English?) – Chocolate Jul 4 '16 at 1:51
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    I've never heard the two used together. – fefe Jul 4 '16 at 3:09
  • @chocolate We typically will say something like "way/much too big" rather than "very too big". – Leo Jul 4 '16 at 7:42
  • I have often heard and seen "凄すぎ(る)" (sugosugi) used as a compliment, esp. when referring to a sporting achievement such as completing a marathon or ultra long bicycle ride. – Craig Hicks Jul 4 '16 at 9:10

The short answer is: Yes, you can.

In order to correctly use both 「とても」 and 「すぎる」 in a clause or short sentence, however, you also must use a negative expression within it.

That is exactly why your sentence:

「この しゅくだい は とても おおきすぎます。」

is ungrammatical, unnatural, etc. There is no negative expression in it. In addition, it is far more natural to say 「おおすぎる」 than 「おおきすぎる」 about the size/amount of homework. [多]{おお}い > [大]{おお}きい

One way to make it correct by adding a negative expression would be to say:

「この しゅくだい は おおすぎて とても できません。」

「できません」("I can/could not do") is the negative expression I have added.

You have probably noticed that I moved the word 「とても」 around. That is because in the new sentence, 「とても」 modifies 「できません」, and not 「おおきすぎて」.

I am sure that you learned 「とても」 meant "very" just like we Japanese-speakers learned that "very" meant 「とても」 in school.

Truth is, though, Japanese-speakers do not often use 「とても」 to mean "very" in daily conversations. We use 「たいへん」、「すごく」、「[非常]{ひじょう}に」, etc. considerably more often than 「とても」.

In fact, try looking up 「とても」 in any monolingual Japanese dictionary and you will be shocked that "very" will not be listed as the first definition.

Look in the 大辞林 for instance. You will find that "very" will only be the second definition.

What is the first, then? It is the "とても + negative expression" that I am discussing here. In English, that definition would be along the lines of "regardless", "no matter what", etc. This is why the new sentence that I formed above makes sense.

"This homework is just so much that I couldn't do it (no matter what)!"


I don't see any issue grammatically, but the combination of とても and ~すぎる does not sound natural.

It would be similar to saying "totally too much" or "completely too much" in English.
Too much is, well... just too much.

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    Lol! For sure many would say too much. But others would say it anyway. – Craig Hicks Jul 4 '16 at 9:06

“It is very too much big (heavy, cheap, strong, difficult and so on),” would sound awkward in English, but the expression,“とても+…過ぎる” is normal, at least passable in Japanese.

We say ”その仕事は私にはとても重過ぎます – The job is too heavy (burden) for me to carry out ,” ”手荷物がとても大き過ぎて機内には持ち込めない – The baggage is too big to bring in the plane.” No problem.

Of course, you can omit “とても” in these sentences, but it emphasizes "excessiveness" i.e. “重過ぎ,” ”大き過ぎ,” and not necessarily redundant.

However, as other users already pointed out, we don’t say "この宿題はとても大き過ぎます." We say "この宿題はとても多過ぎ(難し過ぎ)ます."

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