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be of a reader. How can this sentence be right?

 
 
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 02:04 am
Lix explained, "I was not as great of a reader as everybody else in the class was...

I can understand the meaning of the sentence. But, I can't understand the grammar of it. If you exclude comparative, as ~ as, what sentence will it be?
I was not of reader?? or I was not great of a reader??. This sentence is right grammatically??
I could understand it if this sentence were like this : I was not as great a reader as everybody else in the class was...
But why of?? why did the author put the word, 'of', in the sentence??
It isn't a typo. 100% right sentence grammatically, although I can't understand why the sentence needs of! Please enlighten me.

Thanks in advance!
 
View best answer, chosen by nateriver
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 02:31 am
You're letting the "of" confuse you unnecessarily. It's just part of a common locution. "I was not as great a reader as everyone else" and "I was not as great of a reader as everyone else" mean exactly the same thing. "It's not as long a walk as you might think" and "It's not as long of a walk as you might think" mean the same thing. It's simply a common mode of expression in English.
nateriver
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 05:25 am
@Setanta,
yeah.. I thought so. But to those -including me-who are not a native speaker, it's very confusing.. can you explain it in terms of grammar? I believe it surely can be explained grammatically.,
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 05:28 am
@nateriver,
There's really no grammatical explanation. Both structures are correct. It's just a speech idiom.
0 Replies
 
oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 05:48 am
@nateriver,

I think Joe Nation or McTag will probably explain this phenomenon grammatically.
But where are they? Able2Know has no @function?
@Joe Nation
@McTag
@JTT
izzythepush
 
  2  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 06:17 am
@nateriver,
I think it's American, I've never come across it, and I'm English.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 06:19 am
@oristarA,
It's an idiom.

oristarA, you really need to spend more time studying idioms.

0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 06:20 am
I wish people would stop tagging these questions with "grammar". So many of the questions about English are about idioms, not about grammar.
iamsam82
  Selected Answer
 
  2  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 06:24 am
@nateriver,
Quote:
Lix explained, "I was not as great of a reader as everybody else in the class was...


This is exclusively American as far as I know. Am an avid lover of South Park and have heard it on there a number of times. Always jarred terribly with me too at first. Then I got used to it.

In Britain, you could not use the of. It would be grammatically incorrect. We'd say:
"I was not as great a reader as everybody else in the class was."
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 07:06 am
@oristarA,

If they see it, they will come.

Mc(honoured to be mentioned in the same sentence as Joe Nation) Tag
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 07:09 am
@iamsam82,

I agree with that.

It's a mixing together of two idioms.

"I'm not much of a reader".
"I'm not a great reader".
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  2  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 07:32 am
@ehBeth,
Quote:
I wish people would stop tagging these questions with "grammar". So many of the questions about English are about idioms, not about grammar.


So what? These questions are about entertainment.

I prefer the original. "I was not as great of a reader as everybody else in the class was..." is stylish. Why would one expect the dumbest English student in the class to express herself grammatically? The best student is likely not so hot.

The idiom is not, in this case, that of a special argot, but of the natural urge to self-denigration which is so often the tone of the superior person. The corollary being equally true.

Somebody using the expression might be tempted to end it with "were...". Then you could all have had a field day.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 07:38 am
@spendius,
I'm not as good of a reader as I would like to be.

I'm not as good a reader as I would like to be.

I think they have different meanings.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 09:39 am
@ehBeth,
Quote:
I wish people would stop tagging these questions with "grammar". So many of the questions about English are about idioms, not about grammar.


How is this not about grammar, Beth? Isn't grammar the study of how the structural components of language affect meaning?
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 09:48 am
Without looking into it too deeply, I agree, 'of a reader', 'of a cook', 'of a bowler', 'of a runner' are all idiomatic Americanisms.

Instead of using the activity: reading, cooking, running, bowling ~
I was as good at running as any of the rest of those slobs.
the writer sticks in a conditional (of a ) and the noun.
I was as good of a runner as any of the rest of the slobs.

I think, it's an idiomatic form of the verb 'to be'

I was as good [at being] a runner as the rest of those slobs.

I'm betting we Americans picked it up from incoming Dutch, Germans or Poles or some other language which has similar constructions where the condition of being or DOing something is expressed with a gerund, (the ---ing form of the noun) rather than the noun.

Ask a Hollander, and maybe a German, (Thomas[?]) what he is does at his desk and his answer, broken down into parts, is "I am of the writer." or "I am of the writing."
American English (and, ahem, real English) speakers would say "I am a writer."
Hmmm, when the British took over New Amsterdam almost all the Dutch stayed put. .... ... .. ....
~~
Just thought of this:
Some sentences require the 'of a" .
He was a hell of a fighter.

Sometime spelled "helluva" or, more politely, "heckava"
~~
Spendius is correct. The meanings without context are mushy.

I was not as great of a reader as the rest of the class.
(Didn't read as much?)
I was not as great a reader as the rest of the class.
(Didn't read as much or had more difficulty reading?)

This is a small thing sitting in the middle of our language.

Joe(there will not be a test.)Nation





ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 10:03 am
@spendius,
spendius wrote:
These questions are about entertainment.


nice

I'll add an entertainment tag
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 10:34 am
@Joe Nation,
Quote:
Without looking into it too deeply, I agree, 'of a reader', 'of a cook', 'of a bowler', 'of a runner' are all idiomatic Americanisms.


This isn't the issue, Joe. Of course these are natural English, for all dialects. He isn't much of a runner.

The issue is when these are combined with a comparative.

Quote:
the writer sticks in a conditional (of a ) and the noun.
I was as good of a runner as any of the rest of the slobs.


I can't see any conditional.
0 Replies
 
contrex
 
  2  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 10:43 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
It's simply a common mode of expression in English.


Inserting an unnecessary "of" in that way is common in US casual English, not really elsewhere. People who say e.g. "It's not that big of a deal" instead if "It's not that big a deal" label themselves American pretty reliably.
MontereyJack
 
  2  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 10:54 am
In a similar vein she might say, "I'm not much of a reader...."
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  -1  
Reply Fri 3 Aug, 2012 12:12 pm
@contrex,
I wonder why you got a big fat zero, C. Perhaps the perception was that you were maligning Americans.

===================

“It’s not that big (of) a deal”: post-adjectival (of) in Washington, DC

http://www.ncl.ac.uk/linguistics/assets/documents/Nylund.pdf
 

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