ADJ (of) a -- where's the plural?

Benjamin Barrett bjb5 at U.WASHINGTON.EDU
Sat Apr 17 20:54:25 UTC 2004

Try reducing the "of" to "a" in the plural form...

To me, there is no version without the "of". "He's too good a shooter"
comes from "good of a" where the "of" is reduced to a schwa and
phonetically combines with the article. The plural works fine: They're too
good a (=of) shooters.

The question "How good a (=of) shooters are they" is just fine as well.

Admittedly, in the plural version, using the unreduced form of "of" sounds
odd, probably because it isn't used. I've seen a couple other uses of "of"
where the unreduced forms sounds strange, though I can't recall any right

Benjamin Barrett

>-----Original Message-----
>From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]
>Hmm.  Looks like there's a "dialect split" here.
>Can you also get "How good shooters are they?" as the plural
>of "How good a shooter is he?"  Also, I'm assuming you (and I
>mean you, not
>one) can't say "They're two good of shooters" or "How good of
>shooters are they?", right?  For me, the version without "of"
>is pretty much as bad as the version with "of".  I'm assuming
>you have a difference between the "of" and the non-"of" versions.

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