Two Adjective Patterns for Emphasis

A student recently commented that he liked the pattern “too (adjective) a (noun)”, as in:

Our eyes are too precious a gift to risk losing.

This is saying the same thing as:

Our eyes are a gift. They are too precious to risk losing.

The pattern “too precious a gift” (compared to a precious gift) adds emphasis or strength to the meaning of the adjective “precious” and says it in fewer words.

Here is another example of using this pattern:

Boss: Is Lee a valuable employee?

Secretary: All of our employees are valuable, sir.

Boss: Good answer (smiles wryly). But what I am asking is, “Is he too valuable an employee to fire?”

Secretary: Definitely. He does the work of three people. Bob, now, is a lazy worker. In fact, he is too lazy an employee to keep on our payroll. Bob is the one you should let go (fire).


A similar pattern could be used with an infinitive: too (adjective) to (verb)

Some companies in the USA are considered too big to fail.
(This means that the federal government cannot allow them to fail.)

Our eyes are too precious to risk losing.

Some more examples:

I hope that each of you is too caring a student to ignore my invitation below.

I hope (that) you are too motivated to miss this opportunity to practice these patterns.

I invite my students to add some other examples of using these two patterns.

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