Posts Tagged ‘rather a’

Modification of nouns

March 16th, 2011 in Improve English

Gradable nouns

Some nouns are gradable. They can be used with degree modifiers.

She is a great nuisance. (= She is very annoying.)
The program was a relative success.

Singular countable nouns can be modified by quite a or rather a.

She is quite a nuisance. OR She is rather a nuisance.
The event was quite a success. OR The event was rather a success.

Note that uncountable or plural nouns cannot be modified by quite/rather a.

Singular countable nouns can also be modified by a quantifier with of.

She is a bit of a fool.
How much of a thinker is he?
The meeting was not much of a success.
She is very much of an intellectual.

Note that this structure, too, cannot be used with uncountable or plural nouns.

Such can also be used to modify gradable nouns. Note that such can be used with both countable (singular and plural) and uncountable nouns.

She is such a nuisance.
He is such an idiot.
Don’t talk such nonsense.

Some nouns are non-gradable. Examples are: girl, student, boy, teacher, mother, rain, song etc. Note that quite is the only modifier that can be used with non-gradable nouns. This structure is used to mean that something very remarkable or impressive.

He is quite a boy!