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    #1

    He is "quite a character" OR "quite the character" ?

    Hi - can you please explain which sounds more natural, or perhaps whether there is a difference in meanings between the two usages?
    Same goes for other similar expressions, e.g. "he's quite a/the catch", "he's quite a/the player" (lady's man) etc.
    Or, to quote a native speaker, this headline : "Madoff boasts he is “quite the celebrity” in prison" (why not "quite A celebrity" ?)

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: He is "quite a character" OR "quite the character" ?

    In those constructions, the use of "a" implies "one of a number of similar individuals". The use of "the" implies that the individual is a better something than most.
    Last edited by MikeNewYork; 28-Jul-2014 at 21:40. Reason: typo

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    #3

    Re: He is "quite a character" OR "quite the character" ?

    I see little, if any, difference between 'a' and 'the' in that type of expression.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: He is "quite a character" OR "quite the character" ?

    My opinion is similar to Mike's. I find the use of 'the' tends to mean that he is a prototypical example of the species, "the compleat lady's man", not necessarily superior in everything to others.
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/compleat

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