Can anyone explain why the preposition "of" is deleted in the second sentence below? Please provide relevant examples to understand. If there is a certain rule, then what is the name of that rule?

Incorrect: Most people think that women have achieved equality with men, but sociologists know that statistics for both post-graduate education and median income indicate as drastic of a gap as there was 10 years ago.

Correct: Most people think that women have achieved equality with men, but sociologists know that statistics for both post-graduate education and median income indicate as drastic a gap as there was 10 years ago.

If possible, what is the difference between the two sentences below?

He is as melodramatic of a man as any I have seen.

He is as melodramatic a man as any I have seen.

Why can't I use:

He is as melodramatic man as any I have seen.

  • 2
    I can't come up with an example where one would use <adjective> of a <noun>, whether or not there is a comparison involved. An adjective in comparative or superlative form may have of after it and before a group of the compared objects: He is the largest of all the men. She is the fastest of anyone I've ever seen. Please pick the larger of the two of them. May 2, 2016 at 16:10
  • 3
    @ToddWilcox - You can't think of a use for "<adjective> of a <noun>"? Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but we see that kind of usage all the time. For example, "As big of a puzzle as that gun represented..." or "...it turned out not to be as big of a deal as you had thought."
    – stangdon
    May 2, 2016 at 16:13
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    @stangdon Your first example is not proper grammar, but seems be used intentionally to represent the tone of the narrator, the second example is also grammatically incorrect, but is a very common turn of phrase. The second example is a good caution that not all that is published is of high quality. It is most proper to omit the of for both examples. May 2, 2016 at 16:18
  • 3
    @ToddWilcox - Maybe it's not elegant or common, but I think it's a little dismissive to say it's flatly "not proper grammar". In my regiolect, at least, "as X of a Y" is actually more common and natural-sounding than "as X a Y", especially when it's "as big of a deal". I'm not going to say that whatever people say is necessarily correct - people make errors all the time - but for one example, here's a Ph.D. being interviewed by a major newspaper and saying "as big of a deal". Regional, variant, maybe; wrong, no.
    – stangdon
    May 2, 2016 at 20:53
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    @stangdon "As big of a deal" is a turn of phrase that maybe doesn't have roots in proper grammar but is very common. It's an exception to the general rule that I was hoping to clarify for the asker. Whether how often something is used relates to how grammatical it is could be (and often is) hotly debated. As this is ELL and not ELU, I think it is most helpful to attempt to clarify "rules" that reflect more formal grammar and not get too bogged down in how commonly those "rules" are broken. Better for the asker to avoid using "of" in this way, and saying "as big a deal" would not sound strange. May 2, 2016 at 20:57

4 Answers 4


Of is not 'deleted' in the second sentence; it is improperly intruded into the first.

This intrusive of has been common in colloquial English at least since I was a child in the 1950s, but it is not acceptable in formal writing.

As for the article: it is required by the ordinary sense:

He is a man.

It falls after the adjective here because melodramatic is not a direct attributive adjective (He is a melodramatic man) but the first term in the predicate comparison as melodramatic as . . . In fact, it would be entirely proper to write it that way:

He is a man as melodramatic as any I have seen.

There are really two predicates here: the "matrix" predication He is a man and the subordinate predication He is as melodramatic as any man I have ever seen.

  • 2
    I'm not familiar with the expression for something to be intruded. Normally I'd think of 'has intruded' rather than 'is intruded'. Is that a technical term?
    – Hatshepsut
    May 3, 2016 at 6:24
  • 1
    @Hatshepsut Intrude has both transitive and intransitive uses. May 3, 2016 at 10:32

Can anyone explain why preposition "of" is deleted in the second sentence?

I agree with StoneyB's answer to the effect that the of is not omitted in the second sentence, but rather improper in the first. However, of is used in some phrases involving quantities and omitted in others, and not always in a predictable way. For example, someone telling you how much sugar to add to a cake might say:

  • a half a cup

  • a third of a cup

  • a quarter cup

Likewise, they might tell you to include

  • a couple apples

  • a pair of apples

I don't think there's much logic behind the differences above; they're just idioms that you get used to, and some may change regionally. (I sometimes hear a TV personality say "a third a cup" and it sounds awful to my ear.)

We often use of to distinguish between a portion of a greater number and an entire group. For example, you might serve your cake to:

  • your three guests: There are three guests and they all have cake.

  • three of your guests: There are more than three guests, but three have cake.

  • three guests: Three guests get cake, the total number of guests is uncertain.

  • 2
    Things like "half" could serve as adjectives, as in "a half-cup" or "one half-cup", and may be used with or without "of", typically with slightly different meanings. I would tend to read "half a cup" as representing a quantity, and "half of a cup" representing a fraction of an actual whole measured cup which has an "other half", as in "Put half of a cup of flour into a saucepan and spread the other half on the counter". Such usages aren't always precise, however, and the appearance and disappearance of "of" in such places may lead to a perception that the word is optional elsewhere also.
    – supercat
    May 3, 2016 at 13:53

Apparently there's a grammatical rule being violated in your example sentences with "of", but as a native American-English speaker who writes reports for a living and has always done excellently on English tests (perfect English SAT), I'm completely unaware of it.

I'm sure I use the "of" construction fairly often. In the US, I doubt most native speakers would even notice.

So, take note of the explanations you've been given here, but don't worry about it too much unless you're doing something rather formal.

  • 3
    Possibly a US/UK distinction because I'd notice an extra 'of' appearing and find it rather odd. May 2, 2016 at 21:52
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    @PeteKirkham That's entirely possible. I might be wrong, but I'm pretty sure I hear people use this construction regularly, and I can't recall ever being corrected after using it.
    – DCShannon
    May 2, 2016 at 22:17
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    As a Brit who lived c.10 years in the states, I definitely agree it’s a US/UK difference. I don’t remember ever encountering the “…of…” version from UK speakers, whereas in casual speech in the US (at least from the people I know), this seemed definitely more common than the version without “of”. However, I have heard multiple people in the US say they believe the “…of…” version is not traditionally/formal correct, and the version without “of” should be used in formal writing.
    – PLL
    May 2, 2016 at 23:01

To me, a non-native speaker, the "correct" isn't as easy as pie to be fully grasped at first read, but "as drastic a gap as there was 10 years ago" is proper usage.

As for the melodramatic man, I don't think it's the proper collocation (his gestures or behavior or some actions MAY be melodramatic, though) - maybe "a melodrama man" would suit the character best, IMHO.

  • 1
    Yes, from a non native speaker too.
    – user17814
    May 2, 2016 at 12:51
  • 1
    Which means what?
    – Victor B.
    May 2, 2016 at 12:55
  • 1
    Which means, ...... I have no objection. when we think about as.... as..the questioner's wonder why of before a gap does not come strange though.......
    – user17814
    May 2, 2016 at 13:03
  • 1
    I take it as "it means what it means". Have a good day!
    – Victor B.
    May 2, 2016 at 13:16

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