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Consider the phrase "I'm doing this for a bit different reason."

The grouping here is "((a bit) different) reason" and not "a ((bit different) reason)", so the noun "reason" lacks an article.

Does "a bit different" itself act as a determiner here? Or is the article implicit and simply omitted to avoid repetition?

  • That's not right, it should be something like a bit of a different reason. Of a can be slurred, though. – Cerberus Mar 13 '14 at 14:12
  • @Cerberus: interesting. What's the grammatical role of "of a" here? – user2978 Mar 13 '14 at 14:25
  • There is a different reason, and we take a bit of it. It is a noun phrase (a bit) modified by another noun phrase (a different reason). That is a bit different is another construction: there a bit modifies the adjective different directly, and there is no noun phrase. You can't easily combine the two, so the slightly odd a bit of a ensues. A bit of a different reason may sound slightly like a bit different reason in quick or sloppy speech. – Cerberus Mar 13 '14 at 16:41
  • Here you can see your a bit different _NOUN_ is not used in print, whereas a bit of a different is. books.google.com/ngrams/… – Cerberus Mar 13 '14 at 16:48
  • @Cerberus ok, I'm convinced that "of a" is the correct form. But interpreting "a bit of a ..." here as "a bit of something" sounds really odd. (Also, care to put this as an answer?) – user2978 Mar 13 '14 at 17:09
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I'm afraid your construction is not correct: it should be something like a bit of a different reason. You can see that a bit different [noun] is not used in print, whereas a bit of a different is.

There is a different reason, and we take a bit of it. It is a noun phrase (a bit) modified by another noun phrase (a different reason). That is a bit different is another construction: there a bit modifies the adjective different directly, and there is no noun phrase. You can't easily combine the two, so the slightly odd a bit of a ensues. A bit of a different reason may sound slightly like a bit different reason in quick or sloppy speech.

The construction is odd, but it is what I would call an explicative or defining genitive: you characterise the different reason as "a bit", as a small thing. It is akin to he is a bear of a man; that is not about a man possessing a bear, but about a bear that is a man.

See also this question on Linguistics: possessive constructions signifying semantic equation: term? distribution? explanation?

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The full phrase a bit means

Somewhat; to some extent

Derived from the noun, bit, the indefintie article a is part of the full phrase and is used in the axample adverbially to modify different. The sentence could have been constructed

I'm doing this for a somewhat different reason.

In the alternative construction, the indefinite article that modifies reason is present. But directly substituting a bit for somewhat would result in

I'm doing this for a a bit different reason.

Obviously unacceptable. We omit the second a to avoid clumsiness.

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