In the following example sentences the word “a” is used correctly, however I am having trouble explaining why to a non-native speaker:

“Never had more handsome a man walked the earth.”

“And what more perfect a way to end the event?”

“More powerful a witch the world has never seen.”

I’m aware these sentences might be considered ‘literary’ and few people would converse in such terms, but I could do with some help deconstructing and justifying the use of “a” in this form.

  • The sentence “Never had a more handsome man walked the earth” is identical in meaning your first sentence, and reveals why an indefinite article is used as per usual. To make it even more obvious: "A more handsome man had never walked the earth." The indefinite article performs its usual but important role in all these sentences. Perhaps the difficulty is in explaining what that basic role is? ;-) – Reinstate Monica Jun 24 at 12:56

The word 'a' allows you to compare your man, way and witch to the generic man, way and witch. As in "No generic man has ever been more handsome than this specific one."

Or "No other non-specific witch has ever been more powerful than this one."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.