[Ads-l] "just as good _of_ a(n) NP"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 19 00:54:09 UTC 2015

On Sun, Oct 18, 2015 at 7:17 PM, Benjamin Torbert <btorbert at gmail.com>

> I was taught, in the 1980s, that it was [prescriptively] verboten.

The rule is longer-lived than I thought. I learned it in high school,
1950-54. Oddly, lots of people around the Web are under the impression that
the "as good _of_ a" type of a  <har! har!> construction originated as
recently as last year, among a few of the uneducated. There are people
arguing both sides of the matter. I even found an instance of a teacher
asking for advice as to what reason he could give his students for not
using the _of_.

The only reason that my teachers bothered to give me was that using the
_of_ would lower my grade. That's a better reason than telling people that
they don't know the "rules of grammar" of their native language, when the
question is simply one of stylistics.

Oddly, _as good of a_ can be Googled only back to the '90's, whereas _as
bad of a_ can be traced back to 1702, but only in one work by a single

Letters from the Dead to the Living, ‚ÄéThomas Brown - 1702 - P.241
_Scarron_. Be not Angry, good, [sic] Monsieur l'Abbe ; I do believe as bad,
of a Priest, as you can desire to have me...

On the following page, the same character says:
_Scarron_. I have since drank [sic] a _swinging draught_ of Lethe's
forgetful stream.

I doubt that an earlier instance of this use of "swinging" can be found,
even in HDAS! ;-)

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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