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“How big of a problem” vs. “how big a problem”

I was recently typing along on this site, when I found myself typing

. . . that big [of] a list.

and I couldn't figure out if of belonged in the phrase. Does it?

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Also see vaguely-related What kind of a person vs what kind of person, –  jwpat7 Apr 17 '12 at 17:07
    
@jwpat7, the second one. Thanks; I couldn't figure out how to search for it. –  zpletan Apr 17 '12 at 17:22
    
After I put +of in the search box and got no results, I clicked below "Alternately, try your search in Google:" at the bottom of the search page, and then in google changed +of to "big of a". –  jwpat7 Apr 17 '12 at 17:27
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marked as duplicate by jwpat7, zpletan, Robusto, aedia λ, FumbleFingers Apr 17 '12 at 18:18

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1 Answer

No: it's that big a list.

That big a list is going to be difficult to manage.
A list that big is going to be difficult to manage.

I can't think of an instance where an adjective can be of anything.

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Or, perhaps even better, Such a big list will be difficult to manage. –  J.R. Apr 17 '12 at 17:06
    
@Andrew Leach: The only instance I can think of is the construction,"That is big of him." or "That is kind of him." –  JLG Apr 17 '12 at 17:18
    
Google Books confirms many tens of thousands of people have gone in print with that big of a. Possibly by extension from the far more common that much of a, but the fact remains plenty of people use this form. –  FumbleFingers Apr 17 '12 at 18:22
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@FumbleFinger: Tens of thousands? I'm surprised it's that big of a number... ;^) –  J.R. Apr 17 '12 at 18:32
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