so large a head

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veracity

Senior Member
Hi,

A man with so large a head must have something in it.
A man with so large head must have something in it.

I must have been missing from school many decades ago when we were taught about the difference. I have failed to understand why to use "a" since then. Can somebody explain it to me or please give me a link where I can find a lesson on it.

Thanks.
 
  • SwissPete

    Senior Member
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    A man with so large head must have something in it is not grammatically correct.

    A man with so large a head must have something in it is correct.
    You could also say A man with such a large head must have something in it.

    I hope somebody will come along soon to explain the reasons.
     
    "So" is used here to qualify "large". It means the same as "such a large head".

    However, to say "a man with a so large head ..." would sound odd. therefore it is a rare instance of English putting the indefinite article after the qualifying adjective. I can't think of any time where that happens, except after "so xxxx ....".
     

    wheaten

    Member
    USA english; Canadian English
    I agree with SwissP, the first alternative is not grammatical.

    The grammar of the second is not easy to explain. "So large a head" suggests that there are many heads. This is among the quite large ones.

    Alternatively, "The man with a head so large, is truly unusual."

    Again, there is an implicit comparison.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    SwissPete is on the right track. So is an adverb, used here to modify the adjective large.

    Just remove the adjectival phrase from the sentence:

    A man with so large a head must have something in it.

    "so large" simply describes a head.

    A man with so wide a hand must be able to hold three grammar books.

    A man with a hand must be able...

    Is it clear why you need the article?
     

    veracity

    Senior Member
    A man with so large baggage must have something in it.

    For countable noun i have to use "a" for uncountable noun I must not use "a" or "an".
    This rule applies for "so large ..." chunks too. I hope I understand what chuchuflete told us.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Countable

    A man with such a large head
    A man with so large a head
    A man with a head so large

    Uncountable

    so much baggage
    such a huge amount of baggage
     

    veracity

    Senior Member
    Hmmm. This man has only one suitcase with him which is not a little but a big one. He has got large baggage.He mast have at least some clothes in it. Why not say:
    A man with so large baggage must have something in it.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Hmmm. This man has only one suitcase with him which is not a little but a big one. He has got large baggage.He mast have at least some clothes in it. Why not say:
    A man with so large baggage must have something in it.
    Sorry, veracity. That doesn't work because "baggage" doesn't mean the same thing as "suitcase". (I know the WR dictionary says "a case used to carry belongings when traveling"; I've filed a report. In any case, you can check out the links there for other threads about baggage.)

    You would have to say either "such a large suitcase" or "so much baggage", as Loob pointed out.

    Some other sentences:
    A man with such a large house must have a big family.
    A woman with such a big desk must have an important job.
    A child with such a new bicycle must have just had a birthday.
     

    veracity

    Senior Member
    Is it in any way possible to construct my original sentence with uncountable nouns?
    A man with so large (uncountable noun) must have something in it.

    Thanks.
    Thank you Nun; I will do my search on baggage.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    No, veracity, because as has already been pointed out, with an uncountable noun you need the expression "so much" or "such a large amount of".
    A man with so much baggage must have a lot clothes.
    A man with such a large amount of baggage must be going away for a long time.
     

    veracity

    Senior Member
    I am getting deeper in troubles.

    If the noun is uncountable can I find any adjective in place of "large" to put right before that noun even without "so"?

    "large baggage": these two words do not come together I am afraid.

    Can I write in place of "large" something else and in place of "baggage" something else uncountable?

    Maybe there is a rule that it is not possible to write (and say):

    adjective + uncountable noun

    I don't want to stray away from my original point however much it seems so.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Veracity, look at posts 8 and 10. Loob and I give you the phrase to use with uncountables. ;)
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    A girl with so beautiful hair must have a lot of admirers. - I think its OK.

    Whats the problem with other adjectives like large?
    Hmmm. In my variety of English (AE), it would have to be "such beautiful hair".

    There are several threads here that deal with so and such. Please take a look at them, and if you still have questions then you can add your question to one of those threads.
     

    olliemae

    Senior Member
    New Zealand/America, English
    A girl with so beautiful hair must have a lot of admirers. - I think its OK.

    Whats the problem with other adjectives like large?
    Beautiful hair is fine, but it has to be "such beautiful hair."

    The problem with baggage is that it doesn't refer to the suitcases specifically, but instead to all the things which are packed into the suitcases. It's more of a concept than an actual thing, so you need a large amount of baggage, not just large baggage.
    Likewise, you can have a large body of water, but not large water.
     
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