Is anyone aware of a rule behind which nouns can be combined with a preceding "a good" to become an adjectival phrase. For example "He's a good shot" meaning he has good aim. How many more examples of this construction can EL&U think of?
closed as not a real question by Robusto, Ed Guiness, kiamlaluno, JSBձոգչ, RegDwighт♦ Apr 12 '11 at 18:06
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Disclaimer: Most of this is rambling and thinking in type.
The over-arching principle here is a transformation from:
Obviously these variations don't work well:
The problem with "run" seems to be that it is a continuous activity. Discrete actions seem to fit much better:
These don't seem to mean anything in particular but they don't sound funny to me. But lots of examples suddenly appear when we use "has" instead of "is":
The possession of "a good [verb]" again implies "he [verb]s well." Why some verbs get to see the form "he is a good" instead of "he has a good" is not clear to me. The form "he is a good shooter" makes perfect sense; why "shot" gets to have both may simply be idiomatic.
The examples I can find for "he is a good [verb]" can all be rearranged as "he has a good [verb]" and "he is a good [verb]er". The opposite is untrue: You cannot automatically take "he is a good [verb]er" or "he has a good [verb]" and make "he is a good [verb]".
I think it has to do more with development of idioms rather than any grammatical rule.
As for examples, only one that comes to mind at the moment is the risque "a good lay" and some more vulgar variants.
This is probably too open-ended of a question. "A good X" is possible for nearly any noun where the noun stands for a skill, profession, sports person, etc.: (painter, writer, goalie, resp.).
Any verb that can take "-er" is thinkable here. "A good runner, climber, dealer," etc.
A good deal: a rewarding exchange of goods/services/cash from the buyer's or the seller's POV, as "Oh, Man! I just made a wicked1 good deal on that 1996 Toyota I've been [ yearning for | trying to unload]," as the new owner or the poor struggling salesman might say. "I took that sucker right to the cleaners!2 Pissah!"3
A good deal: a not-insignificant amount, as "I [sic] already dumped a good deal o' cash on that POS Toyota!" or "I spent a good deal o' time dumping that POS Toyota."
A good deal: some better-than-mediocre pine lumber; Oliver Twist might say "At least this refectory table's made of a good deal. Maybe just a nibble ..."
A good deal: my opponent's poker hand.
1 wicked: pissah (South Boston only)