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I heard this in a movie yesterday:

That is great an option!

Why didn't he say:

That is a great option!

How does grammar desribe such inverted phrases? Where should I use this inverted order instead of the usual "an [adjective] [noun]"?

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Did you? Are you sure you heard it correctly? It's very unusual, to say the least. Can you say what came each side of the sentence? –  Barrie England Nov 29 '11 at 8:18
    
Several sentences before and some after, will help us parse this. Can you recall the context and could you please post here for our benefit? –  Kris Nov 29 '11 at 9:50
    
I must have misheard. I won't be even able to restore the context exactly. But the situation was like a girl inviting a man and he answered: ... great an option (positive). I can't be sure, but that's what I heard. It matches the explanation onomatomaniak gave. –  Jarek Nov 29 '11 at 17:09
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closed as too localized by Monica Cellio, kiamlaluno, Marthaª, MrHen, Mitch Dec 13 '11 at 15:42

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2 Answers

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My hunch is that OP misheard.

The inverted "great an option" form is used most frequently in specific constructs, such as "so [adjective] a [noun]" and "as [adjective] a [noun]". (Both of these, for what it's worth, are comparative constructs.)

Ex: That's not so great an option.

Ex #2: I'd rather not live in as large a house as this.

Ex #3: So great a surgeon is she that she could do this operation blindfolded.

Edit: Another context in which this occurs is in constructions of emphasis, such as: How lovely a film that was!

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The placing of the adjective before the determiner was not unknown in earlier times. For example, Shakespeare has 86 instances of ‘good my lord’. But, yes, it is now limited to the kind of constructions you mention. –  Barrie England Nov 29 '11 at 8:36
    
There are another few like "I kid you not" and "believe you me." –  Mark Nov 29 '11 at 9:13
    
@Mark those are inversions of another type. This is about putting the adjective before the indefinite article. –  onomatomaniak Nov 29 '11 at 9:15
    
Possibly also OP missed an "an" -- i.e. it was "That is great as an option". I can visualize that for example in the context of building a menu. –  Wudang Nov 29 '11 at 9:24
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You must be right about mishearing. Now having read your valueable explanations, I can try to restore the sentence. It must have been emphasising construct, maybe How great an option! –  Jarek Nov 29 '11 at 17:14
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The only way I can make sense of the phrase

That is great an option!

is if I put in a comma

That is great, an option!

which means "Here is an option, it's great to have it".

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