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Is the saying "It's not that big of a deal" incorrect? I would really like an answer to this as my children think it is correct.

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    It is widely used, I've got 12,000 hits on Google Books: google.com/… – Lucky Apr 19 '15 at 9:50
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    Actually, "It's not that big a deal" is probably more idiomatic. But "It's not that big of a deal" is better syntax. – Hot Licks Apr 19 '15 at 12:04
  • Related: No big deal vs not that big a deal – TimLymington Apr 19 '15 at 16:46
  • @HotLicks: In what sense is "Not that adjective of..." acceptable, never mind better? – TimLymington Apr 19 '15 at 16:49
  • @TimLymington - adjective article noun is an "odd" construction. "It's not a big deal" would be correct, but when you throw in "that" then it breaks. – Hot Licks Apr 19 '15 at 18:06
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English is mostly defined by usage rather than by reference to a fixed set of all-encompassing rules.

This means your kids are correct.

You might be able to make an argument about staleness of cliché.

I'd just say "wrong buster, it's a heck of a big deal in this household - thems our rules, suck it up."

  • English is defined by usage? Really. So, I ain't going to grammar class today is perfectly OK with you? – Michael Scott Aug 22 '18 at 13:14
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Perhaps this Ngram will answer your question.

I am aware of the weaknesses of Ngram, but it works for rough-and-ready questions like this, and shows that "big a deal" is used more than "big of a deal", at least in writing.

Even though "big a deal" is the more used, I am not sure I would say your kids are wrong in any absolute way. The 'of' is pretty much redundant, and on a personal level I see unnecessary words as a barrier to clarity, but it is used widely in some areas.

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I'm probably a bit old-fashioned, but I say no, this is incorrect. The presence of the word "of" is neither necessary nor correct.

Conciseness and correctness both favour the simpler "not that big a deal."

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