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    #1

    kind of

    Hello,

    I'm a bit confused about the place of the indefinite article in sentences with 'kind of'.

    A sombrero is a kind of hat - I'm talkind about a particular type here.

    However, when 'kind of' is used as a softener in an informal style, where should the article be placed?

    It's kind of a tradition
    It's a kind of tradition

    Dictionary entries say we should use "a kind of sth' when we want to say something is not exact, but Swan's grammar gives examples with 'kind of a'. It's really confusing.

    I'd be grateful for help.
    Thank you.

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: kind of

    Quote Originally Posted by Verona_82 View Post
    Hello,

    I'm a bit confused about the place of the indefinite article in sentences with 'kind of'.

    A sombrero is a kind of hat - I'm talking about a particular type here.

    However, when 'kind of' is used as a softener in an informal style, where should the article be placed?

    It's kind of a tradition
    It's a kind of tradition

    Dictionary entries say we should use "a kind of sth' when we want to say something is not exact, but Swan's grammar gives examples with 'kind of a'. It's really confusing.

    I'd be grateful for help.
    Thank you.
    The dictionary gives you the formally correct choice. Informally the other is common, as Swan allows. People might say that there's a slight difference in meaning:

    It's kind of a tradition = I'm using a manner of speaking when I say that it's a tradition. [In fact it may have happened only once previously.]
    It's a kind of tradition = It is (unarguably) a kind of tradition.

    But I don't buy this distinction. 'Kind of' is, as you say, 'a softener', and people just drop it into the sentence in either position. (In an exam, though, If I were you I'd follow the dictionary's preference!)

    b

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    #3

    Re: kind of

    "A kind of" is different from "kind of."

    "A kind of" is taken literally, each word. Merlot is a kind of wine. Merlot is wine.

    "Kind of" means that a thing approximates or comes close to being something. Wine coolers (or alcopops) are kind of like wine.

    So, in your example, the person states that the thing is "kind of a tradition." Not that it IS a tradition, but that it is sort of, almost, practically, a tradition.

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    #4

    Re: kind of

    'Kind of' is, as you say, 'a softener', and people just drop it into the sentence in either position.
    Good point. In conversation, people may use either form.

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