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

  • 2
    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

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.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.