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When it comes to losing weight, a quick fix to would be nice, but we know there’s no such [a] thing.
(Aussie 7 News)

It sounds like there isn’t ‘a’ in the news. So I wonder if it be right when there is no ‘a’ after ‘such.’ Would it be okay?

9

This is easy to stumble over because the construction without a negative, such a thing, is anomalous.

Any word you might substitute for such—a word which plays the same syntactic role, such as similar or like or different or otherfollows the article: a similar thing, a like thing, a different thing, another thing. And historically, in fact, a such thing alternated freely with such a thing before the language decided it preferred the such a construction about 1400.

Once you realize that the underlying sense is a such, the proper negative becomes clear: no replaces a as the determiner, and reverts to its normal position: no similar thing, no like thing, no different thing, no other thing—and no such thing.

But your instinct is shared by many native speakers. The construction such a thing is so firmly fixed on people's tongues that you will frequently hear people say no such a thing. And at least in my own native dialect the struggle to make syntactic sense of the construction results in no such of a thing.

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  • Thanks for your excellent answer. Does 1400 means 1400 A.D.? – RobertH Jun 30 '20 at 8:10
  • @RobertH Yes it does. – StoneyB on hiatus Jul 1 '20 at 12:12

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