Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Which is correct?

The Chrysler building was the highest building in the world. Today, it is the seventh highest building in the USA.

or:

The Chrysler building was the highest building of the world. Today, it is the seventh highest building of the USA.

share|improve this question
    
placespotting.com/solve.php?placeId=135D-4ECB36C1-196C (I used this phrasing automatically, before reading this question.) –  Cerberus Nov 28 '11 at 6:29

4 Answers 4

up vote 24 down vote accepted

Definitely go with "in the world". I don't recall ever hearing "highest building of the world". Google Ngram confirms that "highest building in the world" is the most commonly used phrase, by far.

However, I think it would be even better to say "tallest building in the world". This would be my personal choice and Google Ngram confirms that the use of "tallest" in this phrase has outstripped the use of "highest" since, approximately, 1917.

enter image description here enter image description here

share|improve this answer
    
Yes, but would it be wrong to use either? –  badp Nov 27 '11 at 18:46
6  
@badp: There are different kinds of wrongness. Something that is grammatical, but never said by a native speaker, is "wrong" by certain definitions. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Nov 27 '11 at 19:13
    
+1 to this answer and to @Mr.ShinyandNew安宇. There's a difference between being grammatically correct and being idiomatic; saying "of the word" will likely sound strange to a native speaker, though there's nothing grammatically wrong with it. –  Adam Robinson Nov 27 '11 at 20:32
5  
Something to keep in mind is that tall refers to the distance from the top to the bottom of something, whereas high refers to the distance from some fixed ground level up to the object. Hence Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, but some shanty on Mt. Everest would be the highest. –  Daniel Nov 28 '11 at 1:06

I would use only the version with in. That with of sounds awkward and suggests that the world or the country has some nontrivial connection with the building.

Note however that we speak of the Seven Wonders of the World because these wonders are representative of the world.

share|improve this answer

Both are grammatical. However, in is a lot more common, especially with words denoting places.

share|improve this answer

As presented in "English Grammar in Use Intermediate", after superlatives we use "in" with places (towns, buildings, etc.) and organizations or groups of people (a class, a team, etc.).

For example :

  • What is the longest river in the world?

  • It is the nicest room in the hotel.

  • Who is the best student in the class?

but Of the three, Nam is the best.

We normally use "of " for a period of time:

E.g. Yesterday was the hottest day of the year.

share|improve this answer
2  
Actually, I'd argue that "on" is more common with the word "team", rather than "in". –  Adam Robinson Nov 27 '11 at 20:33
    
@ Adam Robinson: Can you give an example of superlative in a sentence with "on the team". I find that the phrase 'on the team' popular but 'in the team' is also used. Rather confusing. Can you help me? –  thanh tran Nov 29 '11 at 9:40
    
"He was the most valuable player on the team." I don't believe I've ever heard "in the team" used by a native speaker. –  Adam Robinson Nov 29 '11 at 13:11
    
"In the team" isn't American English, but it may be idiomatic in some other variety, and English Grammar in Use is originally a British English text. –  user21497 Apr 23 '13 at 11:04

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.