Tell me please if there is any difference between the two construction. Here is the context:

It’s important to note that while having too acidic of an environment in your body can have negative health consequences...

It’s important to note that while having an environment that is too acidic in your body can have negative health consequences...

If these sentences are identical in their meaning, then which construction is more formal and which is more natural?

2 Answers 2


The first is non-standard, mainly American, conversational, casual. The second is normal standard English.

"Of insertion" - that is, using 'of' in this way, e.g. too big of a problem, how hard of a job will it be? is mostly confined to American casual speech, and is hardly ever encountered in written English except in reported speech.

...dialectal “of a” usages are becoming acceptable idioms in casual speech and informal writing. However, we still wouldn’t recommend them in formal English, written or spoken.

In fact, this dialectal construction—like “how long of a drive”—isn’t found much in print anyway, except in the most casual writing.

Fowler’s Modern English Usage (rev. 3rd ed.) calls it an informal oral usage that’s confined, so far, to American English.

Merriam-Webster’s says the same: “Our evidence shows the idiom to be almost entirely oral; it is rare in print except in reported speech.”

As M-W concludes: “The only stricture on it suggested by our evidence is that it is a spoken idiom: you will not want to use it much in writing except of the personal kind.”

Not that big of a deal?


SUPPLEMENTAL to Michael Harvey's answer:

Too ADJ of a is, as Michael Harvey says, a colloquial use which is deprecated in formal contexts.

Note, however, that you have alternatives:

. . . having a too acidic environment . . . without the of is formally proper, as is
. . . having too acidic an environment . . .

And if the superlative has a following complement the complement must follow the modified noun, and the entire construction may follow it:

. . . having an environment too acidic to maintain mineral reserves . . .
. . . having too acidic an environment to maintain mineral reserves . . .

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