"that a big deal" or "that big a deal"?

5

1

Source From an episode of Friends at 00:01

Monica: Will you let it go? It's not that big a deal.

Ross: Not that big a deal? It's amazing! OK. Just reach in there and there's just one little manoeuvre bam! — a bra right out the sleeve.

I always believed ‘that a big deal’ to be correct until I watched this episode of 'Friends' series where It's not that big a deal was used so frequently, I am now beginning to doubt my belief that not that a big deal is grammatically correct.

So, which one is grammatically correct?

  1. it's not that a big deal
  2. it's not that big a deal

And why does the indeterminate article, ‘a’, come after the adjective big and not before in the Friends' excerpt?

user42700

Posted 2016-10-04T14:01:36.190

Reputation:

5What she says is "It's not that big a deal." – StoneyB on hiatus – 2016-10-04T14:52:00.660

@StoneyB,Yeah.And that is grammatically incorrect.This is what I think. – None – 2016-10-04T14:56:29.627

3No, that's a common idiom. "(How big is it?) It's not that big*" = "It's not so big as that". – StoneyB on hiatus – 2016-10-04T15:01:51.733

@StoneyB Note that the USAianism is "It's not as big as that", for some reason. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2016-10-04T21:53:46.090

Even if #2 is grammatically incorrect, that's the correct idiomatic phrase. #1 just sounds SO WRONG... – miltonaut – 2016-10-05T12:27:05.020

I would guess where some of the confusion arises is that "that" in this case is an adverb meaning "to a given degree" and thus modifies an adjective – eques – 2016-11-08T16:30:28.090

"A big deal" is a good phrase. In a question, you could say "Is that a big deal?" You would be comparing "that" to "a big deal". In #1, you make a statement where "it" becomes the subject, taking the place of "that" in the sentence. Now you have "it", "that", and "a big deal" that you're trying to use to make a comparison. You can compare any two things. So what would you see as the role of each? In #2, there is an implied "of", "of a deal", and "that" is used to emphasize "big" rather than representing something. – fixer1234 – 2017-03-25T05:17:05.823

Answers

1

"It's not that big a deal" is correct in speech and informal writing. "It's not that a big deal" is not correct.

The structure of the sentence is not common, but it can be used with other adjectives. For instance, I think "He's not that fast a runner" sounds reasonable.

Mark Foskey

Posted 2016-10-04T14:01:36.190

Reputation: 1 745

Could you please provide me with some source material to get into the the intricacies of it? – None – 2016-10-05T15:13:26.783