I came across with this sentence and it cast me doubt the usage of "most" and "the most"

The sentence states: "But what I remembered most is moving a lot"

Would it change the meaning of the sentence if I interchange "most" with "the most"? I am a little confused about when to use these words.

Previous to this post I searched for the difference between these words but I think I need not only the definition but examples to distinguish their usage. Thank you

  • Have you checked to see if a similar question has already been answered?
    – Sankarane
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 21:12
  • I don't think there's much difference from adding the.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 21:26
  • Consider "What it was that I remembered the most is [moving a lot]", er, and "I remembered [moving a lot] the most". The function of "moving a lot" in that last example seems to be that of object; consider where it is replaced by a NP "my first girlfriend": "I remembered [my first girlfriend] the most", where it seems unquestionable an object. Now if it is cleaved into two to form a cleft, we could get something like: "But what I remembered the most is/was [my first girlfriend]". Interestingly, dropping the "the" in "the most" in the last example and in OP's example seems okay to me.
    – F.E.
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 7:36
  • @F.E. Dropping the seems perfectly fine to me in all the examples you gave. Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 10:48
  • Related (though not a duplicate): Which is more common - 'the most' or 'most'? Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 11:55

3 Answers 3


"But what I remembered most is moving a lot" is correct, with or without "the". Although "the most" is the superlative, preferable.

Here, "most" is used as an adverb modifying the verb "remember", meaning "to the greatest extent". There may be other examples, where it can mean "extremely" as in the following:"it was most kind of you", "that is most probably correct".

As an adjective while qualifying a noun, it takes "the" as in the following example:
Here's the most expensive book I ever bought.

As a noun, "most" takes the definite article. For example, "The most (that) you can do is to try again."

For further review: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/most http://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/most-the-most-mostly

  • 4
    This is utterly incorrect. Using the most in the example in the question here is perfectly grammatical and exceedingly common. There is nothing ungrammatical or incorrect about it. The adverbial use of the definite noun the most synonymous with the bare-adverbial most to modify an entire clause or predicate has been in use since at least the 1500s and is an integral part of English. Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 11:37
  • 1
    Also, in your positive/comparative/superlative examples, much/more/most will most commonly be perceived as (pro)nouns acting as direct objects, rather than adverbs modifying the noun. You’d have to add an actual direct object to force the adverbial meaning (and then you’d realise that the much sentence would become ungrammatical), or you’d have to move the adverb before the verb. Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 11:39
  • 1
    Could we therefore say that "the" is also common in the superlatives as an adj or adv? Oxford doesn't give examples with "the". Could you give an example here as an adverb, with the rules governing the use of "the", for the sake of clarifying this both to the poster and me?
    – Sankarane
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 11:56

'Most' is the superlative form of "much and many" and used as adjective, adverb and noun.

As noun:

The most I can offer for the house is $100,000.

(Don't put forth the argument adjective & article combination to be noun.)

The superlative with "most" is sometimes used when there is no ideas of comparison, but merely a desire to indicate a quality in a very high degree. (Grammar Ref.)

This is most convenient.
This is a most wonderful sight.
It was a most eloquent speech.

It should be noted that even though 'most' is in superlative form, 'the' is not used before it. Sometimes, 'most' goes without article or sometimes it takes 'a' instead of 'the'.

In your example it is an adverb; and without 'the' amply conveys what is meant.----there is no idea of comparison.

  • There is absolutely a notion of comparison in the sentence given in the question. It means ‘most of all’, which is inherently comparative in nature. Comparison is only foregone when most is used adverbially to modify adjectives, synonymous to very, which is not the case here. Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 10:51
  • It is from personal perspective, Janus. To me it seems'what is uppermost in his mind'. Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 11:07
  • Exactly. And uppermost implies a comparison. Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 11:19
  • @Barid Baran Acharya: To me, using "a" in a superlative form doesn't seem correct. The following would be: This is "the" most convenient. This is "the" most wonderful sight. It was "the" most eloquent speech.
    – Sankarane
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 12:06
  • What would you say to Oscar Wilde's Selfish Giant when he rubbed the sleep from his eyes.--What did he see? --He saw a most wonderful sight. And was amazed like both of us. Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 13:30

I believe when we use the 'the' its more based on perspective than fact. This also depends on where you place your words in a sentence and which words they are as well. The 'the' article places importance on the object that the speaker or writer is speaking or writing about. 'A' does not do this, it just states that out of many ... there was a... (you can fill in the blanks as you see fit).

This sentence would be incorrect: "the most countries I've been to, are 10". We would need to add something to this sentence so it would look like this: "the most number of countries I've been to..." However, we can use, "the most frustrating thing about... is..."

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