# Thread: One too many

1. Newbie
Join Date
Jan 2011
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22

## One too many

Hi guys, have a Happy New Year :)

I searched for similar threads but found nothing, so..

Exercise question:

a - too many a copy
b - more copies by one
c - one too many a copy
d - one copy too many.

The Teacher's book states that [ C ] is the correct answer. However, I think that [ D ] is the correct answer (I've come across that syntax dozens of times) as I've never seen the syntax found in C.

Do you think it's a typo?

2. ## Re: One too many

Originally Posted by garret
Hi guys, have a Happy New Year :)

I searched for similar threads but found nothing, so..

Exercise question:

a - too many a copy
b - more copies by one
c - one too many a copy
d - one copy too many.

The Teacher's book states that [ C ] is the correct answer. However, I think that [ D ] is the correct answer (I've come across that syntax dozens of times) as I've never seen the syntax found in C.

Do you think it's a typo?
I think "C" is correct, but I'd always vote for "A".

3. ## Re: One too many

Hi garrett, and welcome to Using English.

I agree with you that of the choices given, only D is grammatical. The ones with "a copy" at the end don't work. They would be okay with "copies." B is incomprehensible.

What I'd be most likely to say is "one too many copies" but "D: one copy too many" is also okay.

4. ## Re: One too many

Originally Posted by Barb_D
Hi garrett, and welcome to Using English.

I agree with you that of the choices given, only D is grammatical. The ones with "a copy" at the end don't work. They would be okay with "copies." B is incomprehensible.

What I'd be most likely to say is "one too many copies" but "D: one copy too many" is also okay.
How about "A"? Why can't we say "too many a copy"? I know that there is a construction "many + a + something" meaning "something in the plural" like "many a tale" = "many tales". Here we add "too" getting "too many + a + something". What do you think?

As regards "one too many", does it work only with plurals like "one too many copies" or "one too many books" and never with singulars?

5. Newbie
Join Date
Jan 2011
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## Re: One too many

Originally Posted by Barb_D
Hi garrett, and welcome to Using English.

I agree with you that of the choices given, only D is grammatical. The ones with "a copy" at the end don't work. They would be okay with "copies." B is incomprehensible.

What I'd be most likely to say is "one too many copies" but "D: one copy too many" is also okay.
Thank you Barb, that book has been driving me crazy, it wasn't my choice but I had to use it.. :)

6. ## Re: One too many

D is the best. A and B are unacceptable.

I am surprised that you reject C, Barb. 'One too many a copy' is most certainly not the sort of construction we come across every day, but I think it's possible.

7. ## Re: One too many

I have just turned agains corpora! I tried both the Corpus of Contemporary American and the British National Corpus. Each gave only one citation for 'one too many a...'

I still think it's acceptable, but will have to concede that it's probably very uncommon.

8. ## Re: One too many

Well, hmm. Of course I'm fine with "many a time" or "many a man" or "many a copy."

I suppose I might be okay with "too many a time" or "too many a man." Too many a man has died in vain, that sort of thing. It doesn't sound natural to me, and I'd say "Too many times" or "Too many men" but I think it's rather literary sounding and probably okay.

But "one too many a time" is just over my limit. "One too many times." Likewise, "one too many a copy" just sounds bizarre. "One too many copies." (Or One time too many/One copy too many.)

Is it personal preference? If there is once citation, then perhaps it is -- just a preference shared by almost everyone who publishes!

9. Newbie
Join Date
Jan 2011
Posts
22

## Re: One too many

Originally Posted by fivejedjon
I have just turned agains corpora! I tried both the Corpus of Contemporary American and the British National Corpus. Each gave only one citation for 'one too many a...'

I still think it's acceptable, but will have to concede that it's probably very uncommon.
If it's acceptable ( even if it's very uncommon ) that would mean that there are 2 correct answers ( C+ D ), which constitutes a mistake itself as there should be only 1 possible answer :)

I checked that BNC citation too, thanks for mentioning that :)

EDIT: Barb, I totally agree, it does sound bizarre.

Here's the BNC search result: ( I can't post links yet )

"Only one solution found for this query

FPK 79 One was Esther herself, who had never been accepted into what was essentially a man's world, and who, in her desperate efforts to prove them all wrong, had made one too many a mistake."

FPK Don't cry alone. Cox, J. London: Headline Book Publishing plc, 1992, pp. ??. 2698 s-units, 39979 words.

COCA Result:

"dress that was clearly a hand-me-down special, or at least the veteran of one too many a harvest ball".
Last edited by garret; 11-Jan-2011 at 21:01.

10. ## Re: One too many

Originally Posted by garret
If it's acceptable ( even if it's very uncommon ) that would mean that there are 2 correct answers ( C+ D ), which constitutes a mistake itself as there should be only 1 possible answer :)
This happens all too frequently in multiple choice tests; this is one reason I dislike them.

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