• The breaking of his jug was too natural an accident to excite suspicion.

What does natural function here, in the sentence?

Why is it not written this way: “a too natural accident”

My opinion, I think, is that “too natural” functioning as an adjective, but it is separated from “accident” to show some kind of emphasis.

What us your take on this case?


1 Answer 1


The word too is an adverb there (and too, to the best of my knowledge, can't be any other part of speech except an adverb unlike some other common adverbs and adjectives in English such as fast, for instance). Adverbs, as you probably know, modify adjectives, verbs and other adverbs. In this case, too modifies the adjective natural. It tells you how natural the accident was. It was too natural to excite suspicion.

The reason why it's not written any other way is because the way it's written in your example is how it's supposed to be written if we are to follow the rules of standard English grammar. What we're dealing here with is a very common grammar pattern in English that I think you definitely should commit to memory:

too [adjective] a/an [countable noun] [some additional information]

This means exactly the same thing as a/an [adjective] [noun] with the exception that too would have to be substituted with something else—some other adverb such as very. I can't explain why, but the adverb too, for some reason, cannot be placed between an indefinite article and a noun. So, you can't really say a too natural accident. I think that's the reason why we have this pattern. Technically, the only thing that can be done with your example is to position too natural after an accident, but there's no reason to do that because it doesn't sound like a phrase you would ever actually hear someone use in this situation:

The breaking of his jug was an accident too natural to excite suspicion.

A couple of examples:

He was too brave a man not to take up the challenge. So, he entered the race and won it.

I think she's too good a woman for me. A loser like me just can't marry someone like her.

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