'How big this cake is!' 'What a' (Exclamation)

8769

Senior Member
Japanese and Japan
When you see a very big cake on the table just in front of you, which, #1 or #2, below, would you be likely to say?
1. What a big cake this is!
2. How big this cake is!

A friend insists that #2 is not natural. I feel #1 and #2 are both grammatical and natural English. Grammar books at hand give these two types of exclamatory sentence: “what a ‘noun’” pattern and “how ‘adjective’” pattern.

I’d appreciate it if you would give any comment.
 
  • kitenok

    Senior Member
    Hi 8769,
    Choosing from the constructions you suggest, my most likely response would be "What a big cake!"
    My impression is that the "How + adjective" construction is no longer active in American English. It would certainly be understood, but a native speaker would produce it only in fixed phrases or with a sarcastic tone.
     

    Madrid829

    Senior Member
    US English, Great Lakes area
    I agree with kitenok.

    I often use and hear "how", but it almost always starts with something else. For example, "Look how big the cake is!"
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    In AmE, we do say "How nice!" "How sad!" "How sweet [of you]!" "How awful [for you]!"

    If there is a pattern here, it appears to be that we use "How ...!" with the adjective alone, but "What a ...!" when we name the thing being described.
     

    meetmeinmontauk

    New Member
    English - USA
    That cake is huge! Wow, what a big cake!
    In theory, I guess you could say "how big this cake is etc" that but it just isn't very natural/common...
    Cagey has it right as far as I can see.
    I.E.
    "How cool is that!?!"
    "How funny are you!"
     
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