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What is the part of speech of 'much' in 'That's too much of a hassle'?

While this sounds so simple and basic, the answer could not seem to converge on one.

The answer may be

(a) a noun, although a noun cannot take 'too,' an adverb, or (b) an adjective, although syntactically adjectives normally would not take an of-phrase except for some instances.

What do you think it is?

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You can analyse this as an idiom "too much", formed from an adverb "too" and the determiner/pronoun "much", being used, idiomatically, as a noun phrase.

Compare: "How much sugar did you add? -- I added too much"

Here "much" acting as a pronoun, derived from its use as a determiner with the noun it would determine being provided by context.

From that you can form "too much of sugar" as being equivalent (but poor English) to "too much sugar". Or with a countable noun "too much of a hassle".

The idiomatic use is also seen in in "not much of a ..." meaning "not a very good example of a ..."

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  • James, thanks. I thought along the lines of your analysis. I wanted to go into the separation of 'too' and 'much.' But it didn't yield too much elucidation. I suppose we have to resort to 'too much' as a nominalized adjective phrase to the same effect as your explanation. First have 'much' as an adjective; second, modify it with the adverb 'too'; then turn the combination into 'too much' as a nominalized adjective phrase.
    – Sssamy
    Nov 7, 2020 at 9:23

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