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A particular kind of sentence seems a bit strange to me... it might be, for example, "How interesting it was to see him go!" or... "How dreadful I felt when I heard those words."

Are they grammatically correct? And if so, what are the parts? It seems like they're missing something..

  • Those sentences remind me of Little Red Riding Hood: What big eyes you have, grandma. And what big teeth you have, grandma. – Joshua Karstendick Nov 18 '10 at 14:09
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They are grammatically correct. It's a sort of interjectory phrase, intended to call attention to the particular intensity of a description. This construction is often used for poignancy in poetic language, as well as in compliments to younger individuals ("How smart you are!", "How tall he's gotten!"), but I'm not sure that there's actually a name for it. In conversation, a person may say something like "How interesting..." as a prompt for you to go on—though it may often be heard in a sarcastic tone for its opposite meaning. That usage is short for "How interesting that is!".

Your examples are akin to "It was so interesting to see him go!" and "I felt so dreadful when I heard those words", but with slightly more emphasis on the sentiment than on the subject.

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    Is this type of phrase still in common usage in the US? They sound quite old-fashioned to me (apart from "how interesting"). – Steve Melnikoff Nov 18 '10 at 10:40
  • @Steve Melnikoff: I would agree. – Andy Nov 18 '10 at 16:18
  • Bloody hell. My quaint New England sensibilities strike again! – Jon Purdy Nov 20 '10 at 21:57

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