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Why do we say "it's too hard a task" and not "it's a too hard task"?
Is there a rule for that?

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    Related (but not a dup, I think) is this question about too big (of) a sofa – FumbleFingers Jun 30 '13 at 20:09
  • @FumbleFingers I wouldn't call it a dupe either, mainly because here we have the omission of "of", which makes this even more confusing, I believe. – user98085 Jul 2 '13 at 8:14
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From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_articles:

In most cases, the article is the first word of its noun phrase, preceding all other adjectives and modifiers.

The little old red bag held a very big surprise.

There are a few exceptions, however:

  • Certain determiners, such as all, both, half, double, precede the definite article when used in combination (all the team, both the girls, half the time, double the amount).
  • The determiner such and exclamative what precede the indefinite article (such an idiot, what a day!).
  • Adjectives qualified by too, so, as and how generally precede the indefinite article: too great a loss, so hard a problem, as delicious an apple as I have ever tasted, I know how pretty a girl she is.
  • When adjectives are qualified by quite (particularly when it means "fairly"), the word quite (but not the adjective itself) often precedes the indefinite article: quite a long letter.

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