Q & A of the Week 你问我答
Most / The Most 关于 Most 的应用

Hi, I am completely confused about the usage of 'most'. I am not so sure when I have to put 'the' before 'most'. For example, 'Which question do you think most difficult?' or 'This is the most beautiful town in the world'. Why some need to add 'the' while some do not need to add 'the'? - Wong, China

Listen to this programme first and then read the information below. 请先听节目然后再阅读以下内容。

Listen to this week's programme to hear Li and William tackle Wong's question with help from a very special guest.

Whether or not we put 'the' before 'most' depends on several things. Both Wong's example sentences above are examples of superlatives. With superlatives, it is usually safest is to put 'the' before the superlative, but it is sometimes possible to not do this, when there isn't a noun being defined.

So it is possible to say,

Venice: the most beautiful city in Europe?

I am tallest in my office.

But if the noun 'man' follows the superlative you have to say

I am the tallest man in my office.

However, there is one main exception. We don't say 'the' when we are comparing the way one thing is at different times, rather than comparing two things. So,

This town is most beautiful in Spring.

Li and William also discuss rules about using 'most' when we aren't creating superlatives.

When we are using 'most' as an adverb we can choose whether to use 'the' or not. So, you can say

Which writer do you like most?


Which writer do you like the most?

When we are using 'most' to mean 'the majority of' we don't use 'the', so:

Most Chinese people like tea

Lastly, in old-fashioned, formal English, 'most' is used on its own to mean 'very'.

I was most upset after he left.

William and Li's special guest
Who is William and Li's special guest?
Don't forget you can get a better idea of how to use 'most' by listening to the programme and downloading the script. If you have a question about the English language, send us an email to questions.chinaelt@bbc.co.uk. Your name and answer to the question could appear on our website.

Glossary 词汇

depends on 取决于

superlatives (形容词的)最高级

defined 修饰定义的

exception 特例

adverb 副词

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