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I encounter this expressions that stand for physical entities. But for example, speed is not a thing, it is a property that a thing can have, so how can a car be a great speed? I'm looking for grammatical insights and justifications.

This concession is not a public information.

This car is a great speed.

This book is a long read.

The quiz is a multiple choice.

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    I would say This concession is not public information, This car has great speed, This book is a long read, and The quiz is multiple choice. – Damkerng T. Dec 9 '13 at 13:47
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    @DamkerngT. "This car has great speed" sounds odd to me too, unless the car is currently traveling at a great (as in, high) speed. While not what the OP is going for, "This car is very fast" or similar would be preferable I think. – Doc Dec 9 '13 at 15:02
  • @Doc Agreed. This car is very fast is more to the point. However, I think we can say this person has great speed, that ship has great speed, and so on. I've never heard such use with a car before, but if a ship can have great speed, I believe we could say that to a car too, perhaps. Don't you think so? – Damkerng T. Dec 9 '13 at 15:26
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    No, a car can't be a great speed. – snailcar Dec 9 '13 at 15:41
  • Of the four examples you've provided, I only find two of them (the last two) to be acceptable English. The first two are way off: This car has great speed, or, This car is very fast, and, This concession is not public information. – J.R. Dec 9 '13 at 16:04
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This concession is not a public information. - Is inaccurate as the definition of "concession" in the sentence would not be a public agreement. Therefore it doesn't require the article "a" to modify it.

This car is a great speed. - Is grammatically incorrect. The "car" is a noun that cannot be grammatically modified by the word "speed." The sentence is poorly formed and it would require complete restructuring to make sense.

This book is a long read. This sentence is grammatically correct. "Read" modifies the noun book and long is at the correct adjective for this sentence.

The quiz is a multiple choice. Is grammatically incorrect. There is no need for the article "a" to modify "multiple choice". The correct sentence would read: The quiz is multiple choice."

  • Note that you can say "This car is a great drive", though. – Hellion Dec 31 '13 at 15:29
  • You could. But that resembles a literary construction more than it does spoken English. "This car drives great" flows more smoothly and would still be grammatically correct. – Mistah Mix Dec 31 '13 at 15:43
  • It's not clear why "a" is not required in the first example (about concession). – Graduate Dec 31 '13 at 20:19

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