5

Is

This one is prettier a flower than a rose.

acceptable?

Or am I not allowed to invert it and have to say

This one is a prettier flower than a rose.

?

2

*This one is prettier a flower than a rose.

This inversion is not grammatical or idiomatic.

Ordinarily—let's say in 999 cases out of 1000—determiners (Det) precede modifiers (Mod).

... Deta Modprettier flower ...

In fact, one widely accepted analysis of noun phrases (NP) understands the determiner as a complement not to the noun but to the 'nominal' phrase (Nom) composed of the noun and its dependent modifiers, like this:

NP

About the only situation I can think of where an adjective is permitted to precede a determiner is a comparative construction when the adjective is embedded in another a comparative construction.1 In this example I've put the 'inside' comparative operators in boldface and the 'outside' comparative operators in bold italics:

This is so much prettier a flower than a rose that I will never grow roses again.

  1. I've corrected this in light of Araucaria's answer here, which is a far superior explanation of how these constructions work.

This construction is acceptable in any register. Note, however, that there is a slightly more formal variant which eliminates the unusual Mod-Det-Noun sequence by postposing the modifying phrase—moving it to the right of the noun. (This is standard with any modifying phrase which has one or more constituents to the right of its own head.)

This is a flower so much prettier than a rose that I will never grow roses again.

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  • +1 (Prettier a flower you never did see.) – Araucaria - Not here any more. Mar 10 '17 at 13:29
  • This post might be relevant for your answer:When are adjectives placed before articles? – Araucaria - Not here any more. Mar 10 '17 at 13:36
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    @Araucaria I knew this had been addressed somewhere, but I couldn't think how to find it! Your answer is much more comprehensive; I had not considered non-comparatives within comparative constructions. I do think that the governing consideration with your 'adverbs of degree' is that they are constituents of comparative constructions, even if the comparison is not explicitly drawn--which I take it is what you mean by "this normally entails there being a Complement phrase which indicates the actual extent or degree involved". – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 10 '17 at 14:01
  • I wrote that there answer for EL&U! I wish I knew if that's what I meant. I can't remember! I think I agree with you though. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Mar 10 '17 at 14:14
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    @LawrenceC I think not. In some contexts much may be a quantifier, which may act as a determiner or a fused-head NP (Much remains to be done); but in this context much is an adverb modifying prettier. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 10 '17 at 16:27
0

I would say:

This flower is prettier than a rose

The use of 'a flower' in both of your sentences is unnecessary regardless of the word order.

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  • I'm aware of that, thanks for the answer, but I was just trying to learn about inversion. I will edit my sentence. – aragogue Mar 10 '17 at 4:42
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    You can use both. The first one is more poetic than the second. – Chris M Mar 10 '17 at 7:27

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