Why is "of" dropped in 'as X (of) a something'?

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Can anyone explain why preposition "of" is deleted in the second sentence? Please provide relevant examples to understand. If there is a certain rule, then what is the name of that rule?

Incorrect: Most people think that women have achieved equality with men, but sociologists know that statistics for both post-graduate education and median income indicate as drastic of a gap as there was 10 years ago.

Correct: Most people think that women have achieved equality with men, but sociologists know that statistics for both post-graduate education and median income indicate as drastic a gap as there was 10 years ago.

If possible what is the difference between below two sentences.

He is as melodramatic of a man as any I have seen.

He is as melodramatic a man as any I have seen.

Why can't I use

He is as melodramatic man as any I have seen.

ARYF

Posted 2016-05-02T11:05:38.637

Reputation: 1 335

2I can't come up with an example where one would use <adjective> of a <noun>, whether or not there is a comparison involved. An adjective in comparative or superlative form may have of after it and before a group of the compared objects: *He is the largest of all the men*. *She is the fastest of anyone I've ever seen*. *Please pick the larger of the two of them*. – Todd Wilcox – 2016-05-02T16:10:26.610

A very simple way to look at this question is that you can't say "He is as melodramatic man as..." because you can't just say "He is man" or "He is melodramatic man". There has to be an article. – stangdon – 2016-05-02T16:11:48.557

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@ToddWilcox - You can't think of a use for "<adjective> of a <noun>"? Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but we see that kind of usage all the time. For example, "As big of a puzzle as that gun represented..." or "...it turned out not to be as big of a deal as you had thought."

– stangdon – 2016-05-02T16:13:59.383

3@stangdon Your first example is not proper grammar, but seems be used intentionally to represent the tone of the narrator, the second example is also grammatically incorrect, but is a very common turn of phrase. The second example is a good caution that not all that is published is of high quality. It is most proper to omit the *of* for both examples. – Todd Wilcox – 2016-05-02T16:18:45.940

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@ToddWilcox - Maybe it's not elegant or common, but I think it's a little dismissive to say it's flatly "not proper grammar". In my regiolect, at least, "as X of a Y" is actually more common and natural-sounding than "as X a Y", especially when it's "as big of a deal". I'm not going to say that whatever people say is necessarily correct - people make errors all the time - but for one example, here's a Ph.D. being interviewed by a major newspaper and saying "as big of a deal". Regional, variant, maybe; wrong, no.

– stangdon – 2016-05-02T20:53:33.793

3@stangdon "As big of a deal" is a turn of phrase that maybe doesn't have roots in proper grammar but is very common. It's an exception to the general rule that I was hoping to clarify for the asker. Whether how often something is used relates to how grammatical it is could be (and often is) hotly debated. As this is ELL and not ELU, I think it is most helpful to attempt to clarify "rules" that reflect more formal grammar and not get too bogged down in how commonly those "rules" are broken. Better for the asker to avoid using "of" in this way, and saying "as big a deal" would not sound strange. – Todd Wilcox – 2016-05-02T20:57:12.567

@ToddWilcox: it’s good to say what the standard rule is, but it’s also good to be honest and explain common non-standard usages, since learners will meet them in listening and reading, however much we may recommend the more standard rule. The important point here is that in the speech of many Americans (I don’t know the regional distribution), “as big of a deal” is not an exception to any rule — “as X of a Y” is more common, for many speakers, than “as X a Y”. – PLL – 2016-05-02T22:57:39.743

Did you intentionally ask two questions by dropping the "a" from the last example, or was that just a typo? Normally it's best to ask one question per question. – T.J. Crowder – 2016-05-03T04:19:05.457

@stangdon "In my regiolect, at least, "as X of a Y" is actually more common and natural-sounding than "as X a Y"." Maybe so, but in British English "as X of a Y" looks and sounds semi-literate. I doubt you will find it in any quality British newspaper - unless it's a verbatim quote from an American English speaker, of course. – alephzero – 2016-05-03T11:55:35.113

@alephzero - Hence my use of the term regiolect! – stangdon – 2016-05-03T14:26:28.750

Answers

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Of is not 'deleted' in the second sentence; it is improperly intruded into the first.

This intrusive of has been common in colloquial English at least since I was a child in the 1950s, but it is not acceptable in formal writing.

As for the article: it is required by the ordinary sense:

He is a man.

It falls after the adjective here because melodramatic is not a direct attributive adjective (He is a melodramatic man) but the first term in the predicate comparison as melodramatic as . . . In fact, it would be entirely proper to write it that way:

He is a man as melodramatic as any I have seen.

There are really two predicates here: the "matrix" predication He is a man and the subordinate predication He is as melodramatic as any man I have ever seen.

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2016-05-02T11:05:38.637

Reputation: 176 469

2I'm not familiar with the expression for something to be intruded. Normally I'd think of 'has intruded' rather than 'is intruded'. Is that a technical term? – Hatshepsut – 2016-05-03T06:24:20.630

1@Hatshepsut Intrude has both transitive and intransitive uses. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2016-05-03T10:32:51.400

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Can anyone explain why preposition "of" is deleted in the second sentence?

I agree with StoneyB's answer to the effect that the of is not omitted in the second sentence, but rather improper in the first. However, of is used in some phrases involving quantities and omitted in others, and not always in a predictable way. For example, someone telling you how much sugar to add to a cake might say:

  • a half a cup

  • a third of a cup

  • a quarter cup

Likewise, they might tell you to include

  • a couple apples

  • a pair of apples

I don't think there's much logic behind the differences above; they're just idioms that you get used to, and some may change regionally. (I sometimes hear a TV personality say "a third a cup" and it sounds awful to my ear.)

We often use of to distinguish between a portion of a greater number and an entire group. For example, you might serve your cake to:

  • your three guests: There are three guests and they all have cake.

  • three of your guests: There are more than three guests, but three have cake.

  • three guests: Three guests get cake, the total number of guests is uncertain.

Caleb

Posted 2016-05-02T11:05:38.637

Reputation: 485

1Things like "half" could serve as adjectives, as in "a half-cup" or "one half-cup", and may be used with or without "of", typically with slightly different meanings. I would tend to read "half a cup" as representing a quantity, and "half of a cup" representing a fraction of an actual whole measured cup which has an "other half", as in "Put half of a cup of flour into a saucepan and spread the other half on the counter". Such usages aren't always precise, however, and the appearance and disappearance of "of" in such places may lead to a perception that the word is optional elsewhere also. – supercat – 2016-05-03T13:53:46.373

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Apparently there's a grammatical rule being violated in your example sentences with "of", but as a native American-English speaker who writes reports for a living and has always done excellently on English tests (perfect English SAT), I'm completely unaware of it.

I'm sure I use the "of" construction fairly often. In the US, I doubt most native speakers would even notice.

So, take note of the explanations you've been given here, but don't worry about it too much unless you're doing something rather formal.

DCShannon

Posted 2016-05-02T11:05:38.637

Reputation: 3 272

3Possibly a US/UK distinction because I'd notice an extra 'of' appearing and find it rather odd. – Pete Kirkham – 2016-05-02T21:52:16.040

1@PeteKirkham That's entirely possible. I might be wrong, but I'm pretty sure I hear people use this construction regularly, and I can't recall ever being corrected after using it. – DCShannon – 2016-05-02T22:17:46.460

2As a Brit who lived c.10 years in the states, I definitely agree it’s a US/UK difference. I don’t remember ever encountering the “…of…” version from UK speakers, whereas in casual speech in the US (at least from the people I know), this seemed definitely more common than the version without “of”. However, I have heard multiple people in the US say they believe the “…of…” version is not traditionally/formal correct, and the version without “of” should be used in formal writing. – PLL – 2016-05-02T23:01:54.200

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To me, a non-native speaker, the "correct" isn't as easy as pie to be fully grasped at first read, but "as drastic a gap as there was 10 years ago" is proper usage.

As for the melodramatic man, I don't think it's the proper collocation (his gestures or behavior or some actions MAY be melodramatic, though) - maybe "a melodrama man" would suit the character best, IMHO.

Victor B.

Posted 2016-05-02T11:05:38.637

Reputation: 8 293

1Yes, from a non native speaker too. – Kentaro – 2016-05-02T12:51:12.513

1Which means what? – Victor B. – 2016-05-02T12:55:12.943

1Which means, ...... I have no objection. when we think about as.... as..the questioner's wonder why of before a gap does not come strange though....... – Kentaro – 2016-05-02T13:03:45.450

1I take it as "it means what it means". Have a good day! – Victor B. – 2016-05-02T13:16:15.387