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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.

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    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? ;-) – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Jun 24 '19 at 12:56
  • As others have said, we might call the word order unusual, but the use of the article is really anything but. We are looking for a man. A more handsome man. A more perfect way. A more powerful witch. The article is there simply because English. Not even literary English, just any and all English always. Everyone does converse in such terms. No one converses in terms of "I am looking for handsome man". The article must be there because otherwise it would be missing. – RegDwigнt Nov 26 '19 at 22:34
  • @RegDwigнt To be clear, I have no misunderstanding of the use of the article or its requirement; simply that its use in this form was something I struggled to explain to a non-native speaker (writer, actually). I think the previous commenter has really answered the question and I should post it as such. – Sam_Butler Nov 28 '19 at 9:27
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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."

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I believe one commenter has answered sufficiently:

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.

(Original comment)

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