1. ## 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. ## 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. ## 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".

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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