[Ads-l] "great of guy"

Ben Yagoda byagoda at UDEL.EDU
Thu Jan 13 10:16:44 EST 2022

Thanks for this, Larry. As a connoisseur of what Bryan Garner has dubbed “intrusive of,” I love this form, which I have never encountered before. I would say the notable thing about it is the type of [a] noun “guy” is. That is, I’ve seen a lot of constructions like a pitcher not having “that good of stuff” or a city not having “that great of water,” but until now never a phrase with a count noun.


> On Jan 13, 2022, at 12:00 AM, ADS-L automatic digest system <LISTSERV at listserv.uga.edu> wrote:
> Date:    Wed, 12 Jan 2022 23:22:39 -0500
> From:    Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU <mailto:laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>>
> Subject: "great of guy"
> 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.
> https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/07/style/vaibhavi-kamat-jaideep-rao-wedding.html&source=gmail-imap&ust=1642654865000000&usg=AOvVaw0R9oq5XW7y-7udFG-7fDCd <https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/07/style/vaibhavi-kamat-jaideep-rao-wedding.html&source=gmail-imap&ust=1642654865000000&usg=AOvVaw0R9oq5XW7y-7udFG-7fDCd>
> 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.
> https://www.google.com/url?q=https://m.bassmaster.com/blog/lee-richardson-fisher-fishers&source=gmail-imap&ust=1642654865000000&usg=AOvVaw1OZNjIEMPXNzn3W9HDsY29 <https://www.google.com/url?q=https://m.bassmaster.com/blog/lee-richardson-fisher-fishers&source=gmail-imap&ust=1642654865000000&usg=AOvVaw1OZNjIEMPXNzn3W9HDsY29>
> 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?
> LH

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