I was teaching a class to native Spanish speakers when a student asked me what 'such a' meant and how he could use it. Having been caught completely off guard I tried my best, gave it a thought and explain that we use 'such a'to add emphasis to a noun as in : 'it's such a beautiful day' or 'you're such a good student' but you wouldn't say 'it was such an ok test' because the adjective just wasn't strong enough. However, I just feel I didn't explain it right...

How would you have explained it?

2 Answers 2


I guess this is an intensifier of sorts that intensifies or makes the adjective along with the noun it precedes sound stronger. When used like that, there absolutely must be an adjective to go along with it. This is actually along the lines of how we use adverbs like so in English. You can't really say this is so (in other contexts you can, but they're not applicable here). You say this is so hot.

As to why It was such an okay test. does not work, my thinking would be that some adjectives are naturally unintensifiable. Alright falls into that category as well. They lack comparative and superlative properties unlike most adjectives in English which do have them. We almost never say more okay or most okay or, God forbid, okayer or okayest. But I can imagine that under certain, though very rare, circumstances they might make sense when used in a whimsical kind of way to intentionally make ourselves sound funny.

In the case of You are such a good student., such is an adverb that is similar in meaning to very and intensifies the adjective good. So, what the whole thing really says is that you're not just a good student, you're more than that.

And that's probably how I would explain it.


Difficult to explain, easy to translate - if it helps:

It is such a beautiful day = Es un día tan bonito.

  • Wow! you completely blew me away. I really truly thought there was no translation to that... Guess I have to go back to Spanish school! Thanks!
    – Mabel G
    Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 2:45
  • @Aconcagua The questioner was grateful for your answer, but remember: Spanish is not the only first language spoken by questioners here. To be useful to everyone, and even to this teacher, an explanation of such as from an English-language usage perspective is the goal. Next time, please include both! Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 2:53
  • @P.E.Dant Actually, Cookie Monster had already provided such an explaining answer when I wrote this one. Suppose I should have referred to it, though...
    – Aconcagua
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 6:08
  • Good point, @Aconcagua . My advice was more general than specific to this question. Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 6:11

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