In English, like in any language, we speakers have some funny habits when it comes to using the language. Hey, at least it adds some character, am I right? Today I want to dwell a bit on this thing we do when we contract a quantifier word with the word “of”. This is similar to what happens when we combine “want to (wanna).” But first thing’s first; what in the Anglo-ing world is a quantifier?? Well, quantifiers are words that indicate a quantity (no, really!) or in other words, an amount of something.
Contracting Quantifiers with ‘Of’
Some examples of this are: a little, a lot, many, some, a few
Read more about the types of quantifiers:
When describing an amount (or quantity) of something, some of these words are followed by “of.”
- a lot of cake; some of the cake; a bit of cake
Keep in mind, this is not all the time. Many quantifiers and some of their uses don’t have an “of” after them.
- some cake; a few cakes; many cakes
*“Some cake” and “some of the cake” can mean the same thing. Although, usually “some of the cake” sounds more specific (a piece of a specific cake) while “some cake” sounds more general (a piece of any cake)
When there is an “of” behind those quantifiers that need it, some speakers have a habit of combining the quantifier word with “of.” In this way, it forms a contraction.
- There’s a lotta cake left in the fridge. (a lot of)
- Do you want to take home somma this cake? (some of)
This is more common in speech and when people are talking quickly. This habit is not a rule though, and these words are almost never spelled in the contracted way except in very informal text. It is also not universal and not everyone has this habit. Still, it is fairly common and a good thing to be aware of, say, when you talk with native speakers or watch TV.
This plays into the larger trend of changing short words with the “shwa” sound (uh, like ‘of’, ‘to’, ‘the’) and just contracting them with a bigger word.
The most popular one of these you’ll notice in day-to-day speech will most likely be kinda. As a quantifier, it has about the same meaning as “somewhat” or “a little bit.”
Here are some other common instances of contracting quantifiers with “of.”
a bunch of
- They’re a buncha sore losers. (They’re a bunch of sore losers.)
- Do you want somma my fries? (Do you want some of my fries?)
kind of (used as a quantity)
- I kinda like him. (I kind of like him.)
a couple of
- They’re just a coupla / couple’a guys hanging out. (They’re just a couple of guys hanging out.)
- Okay, I’ve had enough’a this. (Okay, I’ve had enough of this.)
- Oh no! All’a / all’o the food is gone. (Oh no! All of the food is gone.)
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