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There is no such a thing as...

I was under the impression that this is wrong, that you do not say, “no such a thing”, that the proper way is “no such thing as.” But, I recently came across a few instances of this used by professional writers with the article ‘a’. Does this mean you could technically have the article?

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I (a native speaker from the Western U.S.) would say:

There is no such thing
There is no such thing as a unicorn
There is no such thing as unicorns
There are no such things as unicorns

and *maybe*

There is not such a thing as a unicorn

but that feels pretty old-fashioned, somehow.

I would NOT say:

* There is no such a thing
* There is no such a thing as a unicorn

Do you have links to the places where people wrote "no such a thing"? Maybe I'm forgetting some case, but I don't think I ever say or write that. Perhaps the writers originally wrote "no such thing", then changed it to "not such a thing" while editing, but only added the "a", forgetting to change "no" to "not".

tenser_said_the_tensor April 4, 2004, 12:07am

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hey Tensor! a fan says hello...

You CAN say, "there isn't any such thing."

My father, a native Hungarian speaker, used to say "no such a thing" until I was about 3 or 4. I used to work for a fellow from Bombay (pardon me, Mumbai) who used this sort of article-adding construction when he wasn't really thinking about his diction. I don't know about the languages Mr. Kale spoke originally, though I know he spoke both the national and regional languages, but I do know that Hungarian doesn't use articles in the same way English does, when Hungarian uses them at all.

Dyske, my guess is that writers who "come from" other languages that do not use articles would make this mistake. I would bet anything that your "professional writers" are engineers of some sort. The engineers I work with all play fast and loose with any language they happen to be speaking at the moment... I've been in the room when Spanish, Norwegian, standard American English, and (believe it or not) Geordie were all flying around. Crazy oilngas biz. :)

speedwell2 April 5, 2004, 4:32am

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The very last line.

The other one was an email written by an English teacher.

Dyske April 5, 2004, 10:50am

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dyske, I agree with The Tensor. I might add that, unfortunately, making it through the American educational system or possessing professional credentials is NOT a guarantee that the person can speak/write proper English.:)
Since "thing" is a noun, try substituting other nouns: have you seen instances of "no such an address"? "no such a person"? Even Elvis (not an authority on the English language) could sing "No such number, no such zone" instead of "No such a number, no such a zone"! (Hope I'm not being too acerbic.)

Nathan May 6, 2004, 2:57am

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"no such a thing" is a very common. I hear (and say) it all the time.
Well, at least here in Northern Calif.

alkoor May 17, 2004, 3:12pm

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oops, no "a" before "common" of course :)

alkoor May 17, 2004, 3:13pm

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Yes     No