While chatting with one of my friend, he described me as

"you are top ninja". 

I feel it is grammatically incorrect. What is your opinion? Is it correct or wrong. If wrong, how can I correct it ?

  • 2
    I think it's fine in casual chat. It might also be fine in casual talk. For example, in one scene of The Cabin in the Woods, one character said to her friend, "Well, Jules is pre-med." Typically, it should be "Jules is a pre-med." – Damkerng T. Feb 3 '14 at 12:38
  • The most commonly used and similar phrase in American English is "you are top dog". As with Damkerng's example, you don't hear people saying "you are the top dog" or "Jules is a pre-med" -- "Jules is a pre-med" is outright wrong, though, because "pre-med" is not a noun in its own right. "Top dog", however, is treated as a title of dignity and is available for use as a noun clause. – tuespetre Feb 3 '14 at 16:42
  • 2
    I think it reads a lot better if your friend says, "You are the top ninja." – J.R. Feb 3 '14 at 22:50
  • Or "You are a top ninja." – user2617804 Jun 3 '17 at 0:16

OP's figurative ninja (extended from its literal sense to mean anyone exceling at any particular skill) is a bit off-putting when we're dealing with "grammaticality", so let's switch it to a more "standard" noun...

?You are top expert. (where ? indicates "unlikely to be acceptable to many native speakers")

If we also try replacing top with other adjectives which superficially are syntactically similar, we get ...

*You are best expert.
*You are inferior expert. (where * indicates "unlikely to be unacceptable to any native speakers")

But as @tuespetre comments, collocations such as top dog and top dollar are quite well established in informal contexts. And by extension, some native speakers will probably find OP's example "acceptable". But I don't - so as far as I'm concerned, it's not "grammatical" (I'd expect "You are a / the top ninja.").

(Note that "You are top dog" and "This is top dollar" are fine by me - they're just informal usages.)

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