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?

  • 5
    What she says is "It's not that big a deal." Oct 4, 2016 at 14:52
  • @StoneyB,Yeah.And that is grammatically incorrect.This is what I think.
    – user42700
    Oct 4, 2016 at 14:56
  • 3
    No, that's a common idiom. "(How big is it?) It's not that big*" = "It's not so big as that". Oct 4, 2016 at 15:01
  • @StoneyB Note that the USAianism is "It's not as big as that", for some reason. Oct 4, 2016 at 21:53
  • Even if #2 is grammatically incorrect, that's the correct idiomatic phrase. #1 just sounds SO WRONG...
    – miltonaut
    Oct 5, 2016 at 12:27

1 Answer 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.

  • Could you please provide me with some source material to get into the the intricacies of it?
    – user42700
    Oct 5, 2016 at 15:13

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