I came across this exercise in one of Oxford books.

Most / Most of flowers bought at airports are safe, about 90%.

Shouldn't we use "most of the" when we are talking about a specific set of something?

I will be grateful for any help you can provide.

  • 1
    You are correct.....either omit of or use of the. Oct 31 '14 at 11:28
  • I may be very naive, but what danger do the other 10% of the flowers bought at the airport pose? Oct 31 '14 at 11:35
  • In the Answer Key, it's "Most flowers bought at airports are safe, about 90%."
    – MooPer
    Oct 31 '14 at 11:45
  • 1
    @MooPer That's because the word the is missing from the other option. So most flowers is correct, most of flowers is incorrect, and most of the flowers would also be correct, but wasn't one of the choices.
    – Barmar
    Oct 31 '14 at 19:30
  • That comma sure is weird though.
    – jocap
    Jan 5 '15 at 21:04

This has pretty much been answered already. In this case, since "Most of" is missing the, it would be "Most." If the were present, then either would make equal sense.


You can either use most flowers or most of the flowers. *Most of flowers is incorrect.

This Grammar site explains that

When speaking in general, we use most to refer to a quantity of an unspecific group of people or things. Most is a determiner (a quantifier) to the subject noun:

  • Most students ask questions.

As for most of the, it says:

When speaking specifically, we use most with a prepositional phrase that limits the number to a specific group:

  • Most of the students [PP] ask questions.

Here, most is accompanied by the PP of the students to refer to an understood (known) group of students.

So depending on whether you want to speak unspecifically or specifically, use either most flowers or most of the flowers.


"Most / Most of" sounds like someone trying to sound "scientific", or authoritative, or otherwise highbrow.

Perhaps a student, or a beginning journalist.

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