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not so good (Noun) - where to put the article?

English translation: Not so good a man

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12:42 Aug 11, 2010
English to English translations [Non-PRO]
Art/Literary - Linguistics / grammar
English term or phrase: not so good (Noun) - where to put the article?
a refresher needed -

Not so good a man OR A not so good man,

where do I put the article here?

the phrase is to be used as a strory title

TIA
danya
Local time: 17:13
English translation:Not so good a man
Explanation:
English does allow stringing together words to form one concept. You could say a not-very-good man. But not-so-good doesn't work very well as such a string. In contrast, there is a certain poetic flavour to Not So Good a Man as a title. (No hyphens needed because this is understood as a phrase preceded by He is...)

If you decide the opposite way, however, and choose A Not-So-good Man as the title, please include hyphens.
Selected response from:

Joshua Wolfe
Local time: 10:13
Grading comment
thank you!
2 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +7Not such a good man
Tony M
4 +3Not so good a man
Joshua Wolfe
4depends on sentence structure
Maja Basara
5 -3no article i suggestxxxsilifke63


Discussion entries: 4





  

Answers


6 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): -3
not so good (noun) - where to put the article?
no article i suggest


Explanation:
"not so good man"
it would be a right choce.
hth

xxxsilifke63
Native speaker of: Native in TurkishTurkish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  Tony M: I'm afraid TrueBaller is right, this is just not correct in EN, even allowing for poetic licence.
4 mins
  -> to be or not to be!!; art/literary! Thanks :)

neutral  lirka: with Tony
15 mins

neutral  Jim Tucker: alas, not English
30 mins

neutral  Patricia Rosas: ditto with the others!
55 mins

disagree  TrueBaller: Sorry, this is incorrect English
1 hr

disagree  British Diana: riddled with errors, I'm afraid
5 hrs
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13 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
not so good (noun) - where to put the article?
depends on sentence structure


Explanation:
There's a semantic difference.

What is your context?

Example sentence(s):
  • A not so good man would have took advantage of the situation.
  • He not so good a man as you seem to think.
Maja Basara
Croatia
Local time: 16:13
Native speaker of: Croatian

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Tony M: I agree with the principle of what you say, but sadly, the examples you suggest are flawed, and so do not illustrate proper EN usage.
5 mins

agree  xxxsilifke63: story title :) no sentence
6 mins

neutral  lirka: the examples are very strange indeed, as if someone were joking about the way foreigners speaker (he not good). But you made my day.
11 mins

neutral  Patricia Rosas: agree again with lirka and Tony!
49 mins

disagree  British Diana: Both example sentences contain errors
5 hrs
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16 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +7
not so good (noun) - where to put the article?
Not such a good man


Explanation:
It really all depends on what you are trying to say, and what kind of emphasis you wish to place on it; in addition to both your suggestions (either of which could work OK), my suggestion above might be another option to consider.

'not so good a man...' could be followed, for example, by '...as one might be led to believe by his publicist'

'a not so good man' sounds a little awkward in EN, but is still possible, with a little stretching of the stylistic imagination.

My own suggestion probably sounds more natural, using 'such' (the more correct adverb form, I believe) — and could be used with ideas like 'not such a good man after all'

I think you probably need to reflect on just what connotation you might wish to put on this ... what is the unsaid remark that would follow (if any)?

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 22 mins (2010-08-11 13:05:35 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

None of the fragments you are considering are whole sentences in their own right, which is why the answer to your question depends entirely on the structure of the surrounding sentence — you cannot simply take this phrase in isolation.

It might help you to try adding the hyphens, to show where 'not so good' is functioning as an adjective:

"In the end, it was a not-so-cheap bargain"

"In the end, we found it was not so cheap a bargain as we'd at first hoped"

To use your own examples:

"Not so sexy a girl as the advert made out"

"A not-so-handsome guy can still take a pride in his appearance".


Tony M
France
Local time: 16:13
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 156

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Maria Fokin
7 mins

agree  kmtext
8 mins

agree  lirka
9 mins

agree  Sabine Akabayov, PhD
28 mins

agree  Patricia Rosas
46 mins

agree  TrueBaller: This is correct, if you want to avoid using the "so"structure
1 hr

agree  Goldcoaster
3 hrs
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45 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
not so good (noun) - where to put the article?
Not so good a man


Explanation:
English does allow stringing together words to form one concept. You could say a not-very-good man. But not-so-good doesn't work very well as such a string. In contrast, there is a certain poetic flavour to Not So Good a Man as a title. (No hyphens needed because this is understood as a phrase preceded by He is...)

If you decide the opposite way, however, and choose A Not-So-good Man as the title, please include hyphens.

Joshua Wolfe
Local time: 10:13
Native speaker of: English
Grading comment
thank you!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  TrueBaller: This is correct. Hmm, what can I say, Joshua, I am a true baller (basketball baller that is...) Thanks!
45 mins
  -> Thanks, TrueBaller [interesting name, that]

agree  Sarah Bessioud: Works great as a title
50 mins
  -> Thank you for your support

agree  British Diana: idiomatic
4 hrs
  -> Thanks
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Voters for reclassification
as
PRO / non-PRO
Non-PRO (3): writeaway, Jim Tucker, Sabine Akabayov, PhD


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Changes made by editors
Aug 11, 2010 - Changes made by Sabine Akabayov, PhD:
LevelPRO » Non-PRO


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