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

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sun Apr 18 00:15:23 UTC 2004

On Apr 17, 2004, at 1:54 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:

> ...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.

this is not the historical sequence.  the "of"-less version is older.

which is not to say that you can't have reanalyzed things as the

>  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
> now.

i wouldn't flatly deny that there are instances of "of" that are always
v-less, but i can't produce any examples.  maybe there are speakers
with invariant "alotta" and "lotsa"?

arnold (zwicky at

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