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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
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    @HotLicks: In what sense is "Not that adjective of..." acceptable, never mind better? – Tim Lymington Apr 19 '15 at 16:49
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    Idiomatic schmidiomatic....OF a deal is incorrect. – Michael Scott Aug 22 '18 at 13:13
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    In my view, "… not that big of a deal” is always incorrect. "… not that big a deal” might just sometimes work. "… not a big deal” is correct. I suggest that so far, this seems like a little niggle but in 100 years from now, such details will surely make a clear distinction between British and US American English; quite possibly between American dialects, too. Watch M.A.S.H. and consider the huge differences in US dialects clearly apparent 50 years ago, then extrapolate those differences to 50 years ahead… – Robbie Goodwin May 3 at 19:44
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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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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."

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  • 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
  • Sorry, RedGrittyBrick; with the best will in the world "a heck of a big deal" is not comparable to "not that big of a deal." Rather, your "heck of a big deal" would correspond to "not a big deal". If you believe "not a big deal" means the same as "not that big of a deal", can you explain how? – Robbie Goodwin May 4 at 18:23
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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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