"many an entertaining evening."

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nagomi

Senior Member
Korean
"This motto naturally results in many an entertaining evening."

..is the sentence I want to ask tyou about.

Sometimes you would notice "many" is used together with "a" after it.

That is really counterintuitive to me because, if you want to say osmething is in a big number, you could say "ther are many"

but why does this sentence have "many", "a" at the same time?
 
  • sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Simply because that's the way we say it: it's idiomatic and grammatical, even though "many" is plural while "a" is singular. The sentence is correct. It's not possible for us to say how or why this construction came about.
     

    nagomi

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Simply because that's the way we say it: it's idiomatic and grammatical, even though "many" is plural while "a" is singular. The sentence is correct. It's not possible for us to say how or why this construction came about.
    Thank you for your reply,

    I think you could just say "many entertaining evenings." and I believe there must be a reason for not going for this.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Often there are several ways of expressing the same idea. "Many an entertaining evening" may sound more literary than "many entertaining evenings" to some people; some might even find it a little pompous. Others may disagree with that and regard it simply as a useful alternative that provides some variety.
     

    nagomi

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Often there are several ways of expressing the same idea. "Many an entertaining evening" may sound more literary than "many entertaining evenings" to some people; some might even find it a little pompous.
    What would you recommend? should I get used to saying the former way, or do just need to know there's such a thing?
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You should ask yourself whether variety in your English wouldn't be an asset in your particular circumstances, though I imagine that there are many native speakers who never use the "many an entertaining evening" structure.
     

    macphie

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    The expression "many a" or "many an" where the next word start with a vowel is a common but slightly unusual expression. It can be reworded without the "a" or "an" and seems to be an expression only used with "many" as we do not say "few a" Some examples:
    "We have discussed this matter many a time ", "We have been to that restaurant on many an occasion".
    These can be rewored "...discussed this matter many times" and ".....restautant on many occasions". It is commonly used when speaking proverbially as in "Many a man has fallen in love with a woman's beauty".
     

    nagomi

    Senior Member
    Korean
    You should ask yourself whether variety in your English wouldn't be an asset in your particular circumstances, though I imagine that there are many native speakers who never use the "many an entertaining evening" structure.
    Thanks, I'll take it a recommendation.

    but just one more question please. can I use it all the time? is it just about formality?
     
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