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The expression too difficult a task sounds a little pompous, but it doesn't sound ungrammatical. According to my folk-beliefs about English grammar, determiners precede adjectives. However, the expression too difficult a task seems to controvert that belief.

Additionally, the expression too difficult of a task seems grammatical too.

  1. Under what conditions may determiners precede adjectives?
  2. Are there conditions under which too difficult of a task would be a more grammatical expression than too difficult a task would be?

(This question does not ask what the question “How big of a problem” vs. “how big a problem” asks. That question does not pertain to determiners.)

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    Possible duplicate of "How big of a problem" vs. "how big a problem" – FumbleFingers Oct 25 '15 at 15:35
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    @FF: Question (1) here is not answered, or even addressed, by those prior answers. "Determiner" is not mentioned on the page. It's a fair question, correctly put, and I admit I don't know the answer to the general question. I'm a verb phrase linguist, not a noun phrase linguist. – John Lawler Oct 25 '15 at 15:42
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This construction seems to require a modifier that makes a comparison, such as too, (not) as, more, equally, less. Intensifiers which don't have this quality don't seem to do it: *very difficult a task doesn't seem to work.

The construction with of is recent, and traditionalists don't regard it as grammatical. But it is clearly grammatical for some people (though not for me). I think it is predominently American, and I'm sure that it arose because of the unusualness of the traditional construction.

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