2

Among the antiquities of a great nation, its tombs always hold a foremost place.

Since foremost means "first in rank," how can something have a foremost place, and not the foremost place?

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, Drew, tchrist, Chenmunka, user66974 Nov 16 '14 at 20:26

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic. A list of these references can be found here: List of general references" – FumbleFingers, Drew, tchrist, Chenmunka, Community
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    You might as well say there's something wrong with having a leading position. This is just logic-chopping, not reflective of ordinary language use at all. And elative isn't part of ordinary English either. – FumbleFingers Nov 14 '14 at 22:23
  • I tend to agree that "A foremost ..." usually sounds a little sour in my ears. However, if someone says "One of the foremost ..." then for some reason it's better. – Hot Licks Nov 14 '14 at 23:35
2

There may indeed be many 'foremost places'. Consider this crude graphic of a regiment of 800 men on the march:

     BACK                                                                       FRONT
     xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
     xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
     xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
     xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
     xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
     xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
     xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
     xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
     xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
     xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Not one but no less than ten men occupy a (not the) 'foremost place'.

  • Ah, yes. I see now. – ash Nov 15 '14 at 2:10
  • That logic may not apply to the context, though. Unless one sees antiquities as a rank-and-file structure. – Kris Nov 15 '14 at 6:46
1

Among the antiquities of a great nation, its tombs always hold a foremost place

Simply means that there is more than one foremost place among a nation's antiquities.

Among the antiquities of a great nation, its tombs always hold a foremost place--but so do its libraries.

There is the foremost place among a nation's antiquities for learning how its supreme rulers were arranged for the afterlife, namely, its tombs.

But there is also the foremost place among a nation's antiquities for collecting cuneiform samples, namely, its libraries.

Or consider:

Among a great nation's modernites, its rapid speed trains always hold a foremost place--but so do its shopping malls and hydroelectric plants.

There are different foremost places among a great nation's modernites.

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