He expected as good of a performance as Sam's.


He expected as good as performance as Sam. (sounds very wrong to me)

He expected as good of a performance as Sam.

  • Are we comparing two performances? This question is a bit unclear. – Archa Jun 23 '16 at 16:40
  • Alright. Here's another example: He spoke as good English as the first contestant. – ABC Jun 23 '16 at 16:47
  • 1
    That's not a similie, by the way. It's just a comparison. – DJClayworth Jun 23 '16 at 17:24
  • I won't say as good of a performance as is actually "wrong". But it gets only 7 hits in Google Books, compared to about 2270 for as good a performance as. OP's 2nd and 3rd alternatives are simply gibberish, so I'm voting to close for lack of prior research. – FumbleFingers Jun 23 '16 at 17:24

Sam? Or Sam’s?

Part of your question is whether to say “Sam” or “Sam’s”. This is easy to answer, and the answer makes the rest of your question easier to answer, so I will start there.

It is grammatically correct to simplify from sentence (1) to sentence (2):

1. He expected as good of a performance as Sam’s performance.
2. He expected as good of a performance as Sam’s.

The possessive s after Sam is a clue that Sam possesses something which is missing from sentence 2. You restore the missing object, performance, from context. Another case:

3. Your cat is bigger than my cat.
4. Your cat is bigger than mine.

In sentences 1–4, the comparison is between performances, or between cats. But when you remove the possessive, the meaning changes.

5. *He expected as as good of a performance as Sam.
6. *Your cat is bigger than me.

Without the clue given by the possessive, the comparison is between the performance and Sam, and between your cat and me. This is not the intended meaning.

As good (of) a? Or as good as?

It is grammatically correct to say

7. He expected as as good (of) a performance as Sam’s.

The of is optional, and I’ll discuss it in a moment.

When you add an intensifier to an adjective, the word order can change. Let’s look at a simple case. Consider these sentences.

8. He got a fast car.
9. He got a too fast car.
10. He got _ too fast a car.

The change from sentence 8 to sentence 9 is the intensifier too. This tells how fast: too fast. It is more common, though, to move the article a past the adjective, as in sentence 10.

Optional of, or ungrammatical of?

Now let’s look at the of.

11. He got too fast of a car.

Many English speakers add “optional of” as in sentence 11. Possibly they are drawn to it because of the similarity to sentences such as

12. He got a beast of a car.
13. I’ve had a hell of a day.

in which the of is always required.

Some people will tell you that sentence 11 is grammatically incorrect, but “optional of” is simply much too commonly accepted to regard as an error. For example, if you count only occurrences in printed literature, the common phrase “good a man” is prevalent. But if you look at Google search results, which include a large volume of modern, informal texts, “good of a man” is prevalent. This means that the worst that you can say about “optional of” is that it is informal register. It is grammatically correct but inappropriate in a formal context.

The lawler weight of this answer is 0.3 lw.

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One problem is the preposition "of": it doesn't belong in this construction. Better is : "He expected as good a performance as Sam's." (assuming you are comparing two performances). Personally, I find this to be awkward. I like to keep my verbs and objects together, like so: "He expected a performance as good as Sam's."

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The correct version is:

He expected as good a performance as Sam's.

Let's break this down. A full, grammatical sentence meaning the same is:

He expected a performance to be as good as Sam's performance.

Obviously 'Sam' cannot be substituted for 'Sam's' in this case. It's a possessive.

We can omit the words 'to be' and the second 'performance', because they are implied. However the other words shouldn't change. So "Sam's" is right. We can also rearrange the order to get "as good a performance'.

Having said that, the dropping of the 's on Sam's is extremely common, especially in speech, that it will be widely understood and accepted.

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  • Is this construction correct though? "He spoke as good English as the first contestant." – ABC Jun 23 '16 at 17:44
  • Why do you think it might not be? – DJClayworth Jun 23 '16 at 17:51
  • Because I heard a native English speaker say, "He spoke as good as English as the first contestant." and I'm pretty sure it's not correct. I wanted to verify though but Google didn't help here. – ABC Jun 23 '16 at 19:58

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