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Too big a piece or a too big piece

 
 
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2018 01:11 am
Is it "too big a piece (of cake)" or "a too big piece (of cake)"?

Thank you
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Type: Question • Score: 2 • Views: 884 • Replies: 38
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layman
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2018 01:34 am
@paok1970,
paok1970 wrote:

Is it "too big a piece (of cake)" or "a too big piece (of cake)"?

Thank you


It aint thc second one. And it aint quite the first one either. In my neck of the woods, an additional "of" would be required.

We wouldn't say "too big a building," for example. We would say too big of a building (to jump off of, for example). We wouldn't say "too big a chance," either. We would say too big of a chance.

And we would say too big of a piece (of cake).

Don't ask me why. That's just the way we roll.
paok1970
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2018 04:42 am
@layman,
Thank you very much for your prompt reply.

Would you say, " It's too big a problem" or " It's too big of a problem"?

Again, thanks a lot for your kind help.
layman
 
  0  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2018 07:51 am
@paok1970,
I would say: "It's too big of a problem," and I believe that's common, at least in the U.S.
layman
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2018 08:02 am
@layman,
Here's a more authoritative source than me:

Dictionary.com wrote:
Of is sometimes added to phrases beginning with the adverb how or too followed by a descriptive adjective: How long of a drive will it be? It's too hot of a day for tennis.This construction is probably modeled on that in which how or too is followed by much, an unquestionably standard use in all varieties of speech and writing: How much of a problem will that cause the government? There was too much of an uproar for the speaker to be heard.


http://www.dictionary.com/browse/of?s=t

Again, I can't tell you why "of" is used, I just know that it is.
paok1970
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2018 10:20 am
@layman,
I just found this piece of information. What do you think?

Michael Swan wrote in Practical English Usage:

After as, how, so, too and this /that meaning so, adjectives go before a/an. This structure is common in a formal style.

As/how/so/too/this/that + adjective + a/an+noun

I have as good a voice as you.
How good a pianist is he?
It was so warm a day that I could hardly work.
She is too polite a person to refuse.
I couldn’t afford that big a car.
layman
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2018 11:03 am
@paok1970,
paok1970 wrote:
ust found this piece of information. What do you think?

Michael Swan wrote in Practical English Usage:


I think he's spent a lot more time studying proper usage than I have and knows a lot more than I do about it. If he and I disagree on anything, I would defer and presume that he must be right.

I've never paid much attention to formal language rules, truth be told. Any opinions I give here are based on everyday usage, not formal rules, and the two can and do differ in many instances.

I think that's common to many languages. I've known people who learned Spanish in the classroom, for example, who sometimes have trouble understanding (and being understood by) the locals in Mexico. The vernacular often deviates from "the queen's english."
0 Replies
 
centrox
 
  2  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2018 12:12 pm
@layman,
layman wrote:
It aint thc second one. And it aint quite the first one either. In my neck of the woods, an additional "of" would be required.

We wouldn't say "too big a building," for example. We would say too big of a building (to jump off of, for example).

"Too big of" is definitely non-standard, American regional dialect. Mid-West, mainly, I believe. That is being nice. Others would say it is an error and wrong, and either way, telling a learner of English to use it is misleading and unhelpful. Likewise "off of".


centrox
 
  2  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2018 12:25 pm
@paok1970,
paok1970 wrote:
Would you say "It's too big of a problem"?

No. never say (or write) that! In standard English: too big a problem, too long a journey, too small a payment, too heavy a weight, too big an age gap. Linguists call the use of an additional 'of' the “big of” syndrome.

Kenneth G. Wilson, wrote in The Columbia Guide to Standard American English in 1993, that although “how hard of a job” is nonstandard English, it’s analogous to “how much of a job,” which is “clearly idiomatic and Standard.” Wilson also suggested—two decades ago—that nonstandard “of a” usages “could achieve idiomatic status before too long, despite the objections of many commentators.” Until then, he said, they should be left out of “your Planned and Oratorical speech and your edited English.”

Has that time arrived? Well, these dialectal “of a” usages are becoming acceptable idioms in casual speech and informal writing. However, I still wouldn’t recommend them in formal English, written or spoken. In fact, this dialectal construction—like “how long of a drive”—isn’t found much in print anyway, except in the most casual writing. Fowler’s Modern English Usage (rev. 3rd ed.) calls it an informal oral usage that’s confined, so far, to American English. Merriam-Webster’s says the same: “Our evidence shows the idiom to be almost entirely oral; it is rare in print except in reported speech.”

As M-W concludes: “The only stricture on it suggested by our evidence is that it is a spoken idiom: you will not want to use it much in writing except of the personal kind.” It would be an understatement to call this idiom common in American speech. One linguist has written that for lots of speakers, it’s more than common—it’s preferred.
centrox
 
  2  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2018 12:26 pm
In informal speech, of is sometimes added to phrases beginning with the adverb how or too followed by a descriptive adjective: How long of a drive will it be? It's too hot of a day for tennis. This construction is probably modelled on that in which how or too is followed by much, an unquestionably standard use in all varieties of speech and writing: How much of a problem will that cause the government? There was too much of an uproar for the speaker to be heard. The use of of with descriptive adjectives after how or too is largely restricted to informal speech. It occurs occasionally in informal writing and written representations of speech.
layman
 
  -2  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2018 02:52 pm
@centrox,
Well, thanks, for clearin all that up, eh, Cent? Like I done said at the outset:

Quote:
In my neck of the woods...we would say too big of a piece (of cake).

Don't ask me why. That's just the way we roll.


Maybe the "my neck of the woods" part wasn't clear. I shoulda said "Round these here parts we say..."
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  2  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2018 05:54 pm
@centrox,
The use of "off of" has been used by Brit writers such as Shakespeare, John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe and others. It's been used since the days of Middle English.
layman
 
  0  
Reply Thu 4 Jan, 2018 01:32 am
@centrox,
centrox wrote:

paok1970 wrote:
Would you say "It's too big of a problem"?

No. never say (or write) that!


Never? Say or write?

Quote:

Wilson also suggested—two decades ago—that nonstandard “of a” usages “could achieve idiomatic status before too long, despite the objections of many commentators.”

Has that time arrived? Well, these dialectal “of a” usages are becoming acceptable idioms in casual speech and informal writing.


These commentators are kinda all over the lot, eh?

1. That's too much of a risk
2. That too big of a risk

According to some, 1 is entirely correct and 2 is strictly forbidden. What's the big diff?

Apparently it would be "wrong" to say "That's too much risk."

Anyone is welcome to try to make mountains out of these chickenshit mole hills, but include me out, eh?
0 Replies
 
centrox
 
  0  
Reply Thu 4 Jan, 2018 03:55 am
@InfraBlue,
InfraBlue wrote:

The use of "off of" has been used by Brit writers such as Shakespeare, John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe and others. It's been used since the days of Middle English.

Yes, Pepys does too, but I think in modern times it is regional and informal.
paok1970
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jan, 2018 08:01 am
@centrox,
I'm a little confused.

Is it "That's too much a risk" or "That's too much of a risk"?
layman
 
  2  
Reply Thu 4 Jan, 2018 08:24 am
@layman,
layman wrote:

Here's a more authoritative source than me:

Dictionary.com wrote:
Of is sometimes added to phrases beginning with the adverb how or too followed by a descriptive adjective: How long of a drive will it be? It's too hot of a day for tennis.This construction is probably modeled on that in which how or too is followed by much, an unquestionably standard use in all varieties of speech and writing: How much of a problem will that cause the government? There was too much of an uproar for the speaker to be heard.


http://www.dictionary.com/browse/of?s=t

Again, I can't tell you why "of" is used, I just know that it is.


I'm just repeating a prior post. For the purists, the key seems to be whether the word "much" appears, eh?

"This construction is probably modeled on that in which how or too is followed by much, an unquestionably standard use in all varieties of speech and writing

And I agree. A native (american) english speaker would NOT say "That's too much a risk" (without "of").
0 Replies
 
layman
 
  2  
Reply Thu 4 Jan, 2018 09:52 am
@paok1970,
My personal opinion (and, indirectly, advice), Paok, is that language is something that you can "play with" and "have fun with." It aint the 10 commandments, or nuthin.

It's fine for you to educate yourself about all the esoteric nuances that the "experts" like to dwell on, but don't go puttin yourself in no straight-jacket and tryin to walk some robotic line. Just express yourself. If ya make a mistake, it aint no thang.
0 Replies
 
perennialloner
 
  2  
Reply Thu 4 Jan, 2018 03:43 pm
@paok1970,
You could say:
This is too big a piece (of cake).

instead of
This piece (of cake) is too big.

You might use the former construction if you want to avoid the predicate adjective in the latter construction. The reason some might frown upon:
This is a too big piece (of cake).

is that, grammatically speaking, it's improper to split a noun phrase (which in these constructions is "a piece (of cake)") in any group of words featuring a too + adj. construction where the adjective is modifying the noun.

I.e. too + adj. + noun (w/o any determiner)

As a speaker of Am. English, I've used forms of all of these constructions. As long as you get your meaning across...


paok1970
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jan, 2018 04:22 pm
@perennialloner,
perennialloner wrote:
I.e. too + adj. + noun (w/o any determiner)


Would you please explain the above "formula" (structure) with some examples?

Also, why is it "too + adj. + noun" and not "too + adj. + a/an + noun"?

Thank you
perennialloner
 
  2  
Reply Thu 4 Jan, 2018 05:34 pm
@paok1970,
Sorry, I meant "w/a determiner." The formula you've put forward is correct.

"Too big piece of cake" is an example of "too + adj. + noun (w/0 a determiner)."
 

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