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This question already has an answer here:

Can we use superlative when we are talking about 2 or more items? I'm not quite sure about that since the rule says: "Superlative adjectives are used to describe an object which is at the upper or lower limit of a quality".

I wanted to figure out this before talking to my student who wrote the following sentence:"Only a few games are the most popular in the world".

marked as duplicate by deadrat, Edwin Ashworth, tchrist Oct 13 '16 at 0:00

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    Yes: 'The best things in life are free'. Wherever you got your 'rule' from, send it back and get the correct version (though arguably it's incomplete, not totally erroneous). However, using a quantified expression directly with the superlative set ("Only a few games are the most popular in the world"; "Many/few paintings are the most expensive"; "A dozen breeds are the fiercest") doesn't sound right at all. Contrast "These games are the most popular in the world"; "Di Maggio's paintings are the most expensive"; "A dozen breeds of dog, listed in Doggypedia, are considered to be the fiercest". – Edwin Ashworth Oct 12 '16 at 16:31
  • @Edwin is correct. It's a good example of how well-meaning rules can confuse people when they claim to cover all uses. There are always exceptions, usually due to overgeneralization on the part of the rule-writer. – John Lawler Oct 12 '16 at 16:39
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Your question is based unfortunately on a badly-worded law; I would opt for Merriam-Webster's definition:

The form of an adjective or adverb that is used to indicate the greatest degree of a particular quality

The following examples (from this thread) are all cases in which plural objects are used with superlatives:

Basketball players are among the tallest men in the world.
She is one of the richest women in the world

  • I really appreciate your prompt answer! Thank you. – Tanya Solovianchyk Oct 12 '16 at 18:38
  • @TanyaSolovianchyk You're welcome! If you want to accept or up-vote the answer, it will show that you have agreed with this answer and it stops the question from being bumped up as if it were unanswered. – BladorthinTheGrey Oct 12 '16 at 19:05

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