"many a" -- singular or plural? Or just awkward?

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Nov 14 21:35:20 UTC 2008

On Fri, Nov 14, 2008 at 3:03 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
> At 11/14/2008 12:13 PM, Arnold Zwicky wrote:
> >   Chicago is many miles from here.
> >     vs. ?Chicago is many a mile from here.
> I had had the same feeling as Ann Burlingham; where she used
> "metaphorical" I was thinking "poetic".  And to me, in the above
> "many a mile" hints weariness in the journey, whereas "many miles"
> has no poetry.

OED3, FWIW, labels the usage "now literary" (sense A.1b of "many").

--Ben Zimmer

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

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