[Ads-l] "great of guy"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jan 12 23:22:39 EST 2022

OK, I know Arnold has discussed the "DEG ADJ of a N" construction in
various guises (e.g. "not that unusual of a construction"). Arnold has
names for the different species of this genus, but I can't remember
where--Arnold will know, and Ben Z probably will too. For a while, a few
decades ago, one would readily find "how good of an X" or "not that great
of a Y", but it would be odd to see this generalized to other adjectives.
Not so odd anymore, as Arnold's examples and others cited by list members
show. But still this one strikes me as extremely peculiar. From one of the
wedding announcements in Sunday's NYT:

In September 2018, Ms. Kamat boarded a plane for Mississippi and spent a
weekend with Mr. Rao on his university’s campus in Oxford. She was curious
to meet the friends he had often talked about, which made Mr. Rao “very,
very nervous,” he said.

But once she arrived and heard from his friends about *what a great of guy*
he was, Mr. Rao’s nerves relaxed.

Note that unlike many instances of the adjectival + of sequence, this one
has no indefinite article following, although I'm not sure "what a great of
a guy" would sound that much more natural to me. Maybe a little. And of
course "how great of a guy" is impeccable, but that's not the version we
have here.

Here's another hit. with "how" as the degree modifier:

Ryan told us *how great of guy* Lee was before we ever met him, but we
really had no idea.  Lee and his wife, Kathy, took southern hospitality to
a whole new level.

And similarly, this from a story about a 19-year-old baseball player who
died in a car accident:

"Everyone we’ve talked to just talked about *how great of guy *he was, and
how he made them feel seen and heard, and I think that’s so important.”

Has anyone here encountered this particular variant of DEG-ADJ-of? Or have
I just been sleeping under a rock, old of guy that I am?


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list