a great deal of

Akasaka

Senior Member
Japanese
I need your advice.

I have a great deal of homework.

Is this sentence correct? Can I use "a great deal of" as a quantifier here? I'm not sure if it goes with "homework" or not.Thanks in advance.
 
  • LCyeah

    Member
    English, USA
    Agreed.

    But I don't know what would be a more formal way to put that statement.

    I think "I have a great deal of homework" sounds fine, though.
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    Sorry to argue with elroy but it sounds quite formal to me and is used in Australia to sound more elegant than 'a lot of'.

    I would never mark it as being informal.

    .,,
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Sorry to argue with elroy but it sounds quite formal to me and is used in Australia to sound more elegant than 'a lot of'.

    I would never mark it as being informal.

    .,,
    Argue away! :D

    Usage may be different in Australia, but in the US, I would never write "a great deal of" (or "a lot of" for that matter) in a formal piece of writing.

    I would use something like "a great amount of."
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Collins Dictionary
    deal vb 7 an indefinite amount, extent or degree, (esp. in the phrases good or great deal)

    .,,
    Well, yes. No one's saying it doesn't mean that. We just have different opinions about when we'd use it.
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    Well, yes. No one's saying it doesn't mean that. We just have different opinions about when we'd use it.
    Elroy,
    what does the learner of English do here?
    You have come on and proffered your opinion to support the contention that 'a great deal of' is informal.
    I responded with a citation from the Collins Dictionary that the use is not informal which you rebutted by agreeing with the definition but apparently sticking to your opinion that the use is informal supported by nothing more than your opinion.
    Were I an English Learner, I would be quite confused.

    .,,
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    In the absence of the listing as informal or colloquial I am entitled to draw the inference that the usage is considered to be formal. My dictionary does not define formal words as being formal it just indicates words and phrases lacking formality.
    It is my understanding that this is a ubiquitous convention with dictionaries.

    .,,
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    It is not always possible to universally categorize a word or phrase according to its degree of formality, which is often subject to convention, idiosyncrasy, and regional preferences. If learners could just rely on Collins to resolve these issues by assuming that any entry without a usage label is formal by default, there would be no point in coming here to ask.

    We have already established that "a great deal of" is informal in the US but apparently more formal in Australia. Why can't you just accept that?
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    Google has something like 20 million hits for "a great deal of" and less than 2 million for "a great amount of".
    I am happy to accept your opinion that the usage is informal in America but I wonder if you have anything more than your opinion to back up your opinion?

    .,,
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I have nothing more than 17 years of speaking American English, exposure to numerous Americans who use the phrase the way I do, and two Americans who have agreed with me in this thread (and none who haven't).

    It does not surprise me that there are more Google hits for "a great deal of" than "a great amount of." I reckon there is a great deal of informal and not-so-formal junk on the Internet, and not such a great amount of formal pronouncements. ;)
     

    pyan

    Senior Member
    English, UK, London
    "A great deal" meaning a large but unspecified amount seems formal enough to me (UK English) to be used in any context. It has been around a long time, at least since Jane Austen, and is still vigorous.

    Elroy,
    what does the learner of English do here?


    As a learner, currently of French, I find this sort of discussion useful. There is usually a consensus on one or a choice of terms and I see different ways of writing.
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    It does not surprise me that there are more Google hits for "a great deal of" than "a great amount of." I reckon there is a great deal of informal and not-so-formal junk on the Internet, and not such a great amount of formal pronouncements. ;)
    I will happily bow to you on that one.
    I got 361 hits for "a gread deal":eek: .
    What do American dictionaries have to say about the matter?

    .,,
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    It is not always possible to universally categorize a word or phrase according to its degree of formality, which is often subject to convention, idiosyncrasy, and regional preferences. If learners could just rely on Collins to resolve these issues by assuming that any entry without a usage label is formal by default, there would be no point in coming here to ask.
    We are talking about "deal" as meaning "a usually large or indefinite quantity or degree". MW does not mark this usage as informal, nor does Cambridge. I haven't found any information yet about when or how "deal" came to have this meaning. Have you found any source that marks it as informal?

    I think Robert has a valid point.

    However, it is true that formal writing tends to be extremely conservative—meaning that those who grade formal papers are often (and perhaps usually) very conservative.

    At all times when we give answers here, we have to keep that in mind, and I believe that's your point. Correct?
    We have already established that "a great deal of" is informal in the US but apparently more formal in Australia.
    Actually, we have not established that, not yet. We have a few opinions, no mention of any dictionary specifically marking "a great deal of" as being informal or something to be avoided for any reason.

    What we need is quotations from style sheets or other "guides".

    I suspect that "a great/enormous amount" would be preferred by conservative writers, but I have been wrong so many times about such matters that I would like more support. ;)

    Gaer
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    As I stated above, my statement that the expression is informal is not based on a dictionary entry - but on my experience with American English. It was never meant to be more than an opinion.

    I admit that "we have established that..." sounds too conclusive. I meant that that seemed to be the common sentiment in this thread.

    My opinion is not only based on the poor grade I might receive if I used "a great deal of" in a formal essay or paper. I cannot imagine myself preparing a formal speech and using "a great deal of." It just doesn't seem to fit in that register.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    We don't really need to rely on opinion.

    The British National Corpus includes both "a great amount" and "a great deal".

    Amount appears 25 times, mostly in written work.

    Deal apears 3,975 times, in all registers.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    My opinion is not only based on the poor grade I might receive if I used "a great deal of" in a formal essay or paper. I cannot imagine myself preparing a formal speech and using "a great deal of." It just doesn't seem to fit in that register.
    Anyone who would grade you poorly for using "a great deal of" would be astoundingly ignorant. God save us all from people who spend more time telling people how to write than reading!

    Dickens, Chapter 2, first paragraph, Oliver Twist:

    link

    Sevenpence-halfpenny's worth per week is a good round diet for a child; a great deal may be got for sevenpence-halfpenny, quite enough to overload its stomach, and make it uncomfortable.

    In fact, this was the very first book I searched, just on a hunch.

    Chapter 6, same book, first line:

    The month's trial over, Oliver was formally apprenticed. It was a nice sickly season just at this time. In commercial phrase, coffins were looking up; and, in the course of a few weeks, Oliver acquired a great deal of experience.

    Oscar Wilde:

    At Cambridge he had spent a great deal of his time working in the laboratory, and had taken a good class in the Natural Science Tripos of his year.

    Moby Dick:

    For several hours I lay there broad awake, feeling a great deal worse than I have ever done since, even from the greatest subsequent misfortunes.

    And I did not know but what the stingy old Bildad might have a mighty deal to say about shipping hands, especially as I now found him on board the Pequod, quite at home there in the cabin, and reading his Bible as if at his own fireside.

    And this line from Sherlock Holmes, who is speaking to Watson:

    "I think also that the probability is in favour of his being a country practitioner who does a great deal of his visiting on foot."

    I didn't both linking to each line, and not all use "a great deal of", but it is quite clear ot me that "deal", when used for "amount", is anything but recent and something anyone should feel quite safe in using, in any register!

    Gaer
     
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