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I'm pretty sure the sentence "I'm quite an ambitious man" is standard English, but I wonder if the adverb 'too' can be used the same way. To put it another way, I'd like to know which of the following sentences are correct:

(1) I'm a too ambitious man

(2) I'm too ambitious a man

(3) I'm too an ambitious man (where too means very, not also)

Thanks in advance for any contributions

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  • I am too ambitious. I am an overly ambitious man. We are not supposed to just edit/correct like that but sometimes, it's just too easy. – Lambie Oct 2 '19 at 15:28
  • Colloquially, "I'm too ambitious" would be used (if anything). (2) is highfalutin; perhaps "I'm over-ambitious" falls somewhere in between. (3) is ungrammatical. I'll disagree with Colin and say that (1) sounds non-standard. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 2 '19 at 15:32
  • These Google Ngrams and these seem to support my assessments. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 2 '19 at 15:35
  • @EdwinAshworth: maybe. GloWbE has 5386 instances of "too [adj] a" against 567 of "a too [adj]". – Colin Fine Oct 2 '19 at 15:49
  • @ColinFine Have you read some of them? Perhaps most of them! 'Whereas, you do not need a too big bags with you.' / 'your growth in a too big ocean-like companies where individual growth will be very less.' / 'is a too big of a word for people to admit association.' / 'If a too big to fail banks is too big to exist' / 'the promise of order brough by the Empire come at a too big a price'. Strange corpus. I'll stick with 'non-standard'. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 2 '19 at 16:16
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First, too does not mean very. It means excessively. It is sometimes interchangeable with very, but it has a connotation of disapproval.

As for your examples, 3. is ungrammatical.

Your 1. and 2. are both grammatical: 1. is colloquial, and 2. rather literary. Some people would use one of these exclusively; some would say 1., but write 2. in a formal context

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