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  1. anhnha's Avatar
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    #1

    This is too big a subject.

    Hi,
    1. This is too big a subject.
    2. This is a big subject.
    3. This subject is too big.
    I understand the structure of sencond and third sentences but I have a trouble in the first one.
    In this sentence
    big is an adjective and subject is a noun, I feel confused about the order of them.
    Could you tell me more about this kind of sentence?
    Why not just use No.2 or No.3?
    Are there any differences between them?
    Thank you.



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    #2

    Re: This is too big a subject.

    Quote Originally Posted by anhnha View Post
    Hi,
    1. This is too big a subject.
    2. This is a big subject.
    3. This subject is too big.
    I understand the structure of sencond and third sentences but I have a trouble in the first one.
    In this sentence
    big is an adjective and subject is a noun, I feel confused about the order of them.
    Could you tell me more about this kind of sentence?
    Why not just use No.2 or No.3?
    Are there any differences between them?
    Thank you.


    In English, when you wish to premodify the combination ADJECTIVE+NOUN by means of the adverbs 'too' or 'so', the standard construction is [too/so+ADJ+indef. article+N].

    Note, therefore,that you cannot say e.g.

    *a too big subject
    *a so big subject


    nor can you employ the construction at all except with a singular, countable noun (so we may not have. e.g. *too/so depressing news or *too/so busy people.)

    In the case of 'so' there is an alternative construction, using 'such (a)', e.g.

    It was such a big subject.

    which, interestingly, does allow collocation with both non-count and plural nouns, e.g.

    It was such sad news.
    They were such nice people.

    but no such alternative exists in the case of 'too'.

    .

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: This is too big a subject.

    Quote Originally Posted by anhnha View Post
    Hi,
    1. This is too big a subject.
    2. This is a big subject.
    3. This subject is too big.
    I understand the structure of sencond and third sentences but I have a trouble in the first one.
    ...Why not just use No.2 or No.3? Because the meanings are different, and 1 is incomplete
    Are there any differences between them?
    Thank you.


    'This is too big a subject to cover in just one lesson.' You need something like the underlined words to make 'This is too big a subject ...' make sense.

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    #4

    Re: This is too big a subject.

    Quote Originally Posted by anhnha View Post

    Could you tell me more about this kind of sentence?





    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello,


    You may be interested in the views of John B. Opdycke, Ph.D., author of Harper's English Grammar (1987 paperback

    edition, page 92).

    1. Doctor Opdycke says that the following are "grammatical":

    a so sweet story
    a too severe strain
    a how excellent view

    2. BUT he quickly points out that those phrases sound "awkward and ridiculous."

    3. Dr. O. says that "Ear is the deciding factor in most such idioms." (How it sounds)

    4. Thus:

    a. "A too big subject" may be grammatically correct.
    b. But it is not idiomatic. (Native speakers will not accept the sound.)


    James


    P.S. But if you were asked to diagram that sentence, it would probably be diagrammed as if the order were "a too big subject."

    a = adjective (or so-called "determiner")
    too = adverb that modifies the adjective "big."
    big = the adjective that modifies the noun "subject."

  3. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: This is too big a subject.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    You may be interested in the views of John B. Opdycke, Ph.D., author of Harper's English Grammar (1987 paperback edition, page 92).

    1. Doctor Opdycke says that the following are "grammatical":

    a so sweet story
    a too severe strain
    a how excellent view
    Does Opdycke give any justification for this claim?

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    #6

    Re: This is too big a subject.

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Does Opdycke give any justification for this claim?
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    No, Dr. Opdycke does not.

    Actually, I am reading a revised edition of his book.

    The editor of the revised edition admits that

    "this book may take what some call arbitrary positions."

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    #7

    Smile Re: This is too big a subject.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post

    "this book may take what some call arbitrary positions."
    'Arbitrary'... well, that's one way of putting it!

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