Big deals

2006 update: Mark Liberman addresses the source of the [adjective] of a [noun] construction in the Language Log.

Is “big of a deal” as in “it’s not that big of a deal” a US usage, or am I just missing out on a trend?

I say “it’s not that big a deal”, “I don’t want to make that big a deal”, but not “it’s not that big of a deal” or “I don’t want to make that big of a deal”, but it seems like some of my correspondents do.

And does anyone else have those moments where you’ve been looking at words too long and they don’t look right any more? For a second, I thought “big” and “deal” weren’t even words…


From my US vantage point, “big of a deal” is very common.

And I too have those moments of looking at a word for a while and it not looking like a word anymore. I know what you mean.

Posted by katie on February 25, 2004 01:17 PM

I just came across “How large of a litter does a rat have at one time?” in the TREC QA 2003 questions too.

I can’t do that with “of”.

Posted by Mary on February 25, 2004 03:51 PM

From a Norwegian: is this supposed to be the same as “it’s not a big deal”, or is THAT just some Norwenglish and gramatically incorrect phrase?

Posted by Magni on February 25, 2004 09:06 PM


“It’s not a big deal” is perfectly fine, and you wouldn’t blink hearing it in Australia. The “that” simply lets you add emphasis, it’s always said “it’s not /that/ big a deal”. Having it there at all is a little colloquial.

Posted by Mary on February 26, 2004 02:24 PM

I hate the word “of” in a lot of contexts that seem to be loved by Americans.

“Get off of my lawn”.

It just grates me, I know not why.

In fact, I hate most Americanisms: “one hundred two dollars”, “write me”, “most all”… Hmmm, there’s one more, but I can’t remember it for now.

Posted by TimC on March 4, 2004 10:03 PM

Katie: In the photo of tornado kitty, simon and you napping, is Simon sucking his leg and sewing? Because that’s exactly the thing that one of our ginger kitties, imaginitively called “Ginger” did when happy. Always sucked his left rear leg. It would be really cool if there was another identical ginger kitty (they look exactly the same) was just as stupid as our one đŸ™‚

Posted by TimC on March 4, 2004 10:11 PM

One I love though, is “Way!” in response to “No way!”

In fact, I tend to like most back-formations.

Posted by Mary on March 10, 2004 11:33 AM