As part of an answer on another StackExchange site, I have a sentence reading, in part, "[A religious manual] which has quite a long section on [the subject of the question] says ..."
I was looking at this construction and thinking about whether I should say quite a long section or a quite long section—they seem to mean the same thing. Then I began wondering about the construction "quite a[n] [adjective]" in general. It looks as if I can say something is quite a large X or a quite large X; quite a long X or a quite long X; but, for example, neither *quite a purple X nor *a quite purple X.
I'm trying to solidify in my mind:
- The rules governing when I can say quite a[n] [adjective] [noun] in the first place
- The rules governing when I can invert this to a quite [adjective ] [noun]
- Whether there are any other adverbs besides quite which can be inverted in this way.
Is there a name for this inversion? What sorts of elements does it apply to?