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Possible Duplicate:
Do I need to put “the” before “most” in this sentence?

I've always thought you need the definite article 'the' before the superlative of an adjective, except when the comparison is made within the same subject: The swimming pool is deepest here.

Some people say 2 is the more idiomatic. Is this true?

  1. The most tuna are caught in early November.
  2. Most tuna are caught in early November.

marked as duplicate by James Waldby - jwpat7, simchona, kiamlaluno, Matt E. Эллен, Mitch Jan 15 '12 at 15:56

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 1
    "Most" is not a superlative, so the examples aren't appropriate. Now if you said "The biggest tuna...", yes, "the" is required. You might be able to say "Biggest tuna..." but it sounds awkward to me (native AE speaker). – mkennedy Jan 9 '12 at 4:36
  • I thought here 'most' is the superlative of 'many.'... – Sssamy Jan 9 '12 at 5:16
  • I would say 'all' is the superlative of 'most' or 'many.' – mkennedy Jan 9 '12 at 5:25
  • It seems the above thread deals with 'most,' the superlative modifier of 'common,' although the present thread inquires if the superlative of 'many' needs 'the.' I'd appreciate if you would help me with it. – Sssamy Jan 9 '12 at 7:20
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    @jwpat7 Although the answer is very similar, the question is different, since it is coming from a different direction. This question is based on the, incorrect, assumption that the two sentences mean the same thing, the correction of assumption that also answers the question that referred to. For this reason, I would say that this is not a duplicate. – Paul Wagland Jan 9 '12 at 17:15
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These say two different things.

The most tuna are caught in early November.

This means more tuna is caught in early November than any other comparable time frame. Here, 'most' is a superlative meaning "the amount that is greatest". It means the quantity of tuna caught in early November is greater than anything comparable, which would be tuna caught during other comparable time frames.

Most tuna are caught in early November.

This means that the majority of tuna that are caught are caught in early November. Here, 'most' is an intensifier meaning "more than half".

So, for example:

The most births occur in August and September

This is true, more births occur in those months than any other comparable time frame.

Most births occur in August and Septmeber.

This is false. In fact, most births occur in the other 10 months.

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    Sadly, this answer is unacceptable. 'Intensifiers', as the linked Wikipedia article clearly explains, modify (with intensification; contrast 'downtoners' such as 'slightly', 'fairly') other modifiers (adjectives / adverbs), as in 'It was very cold', 'She was frighteningly penetrating', 'He was most charming'. An intensifier role for 'most' in 'most tuna' is impossible; it would be a close synonym of 'extremely tuna'. // Obviously, 'He is most charming' (intensifier usage) and 'He is the most charming' (perhaps in answer to "Who is the most charming man here?" contain different ... – Edwin Ashworth May 18 '18 at 9:33
  • usages of 'most'. The second is the periphrastic superlative construction. // With 'Most tuna are caught in early November' 'most' is a quantifier. But this sentence is ambiguous: it is not clear if the scope of 'most' is 'the whole catch over the year/s' (ie over 50% of all tuna caught) or 'in comparison with the other 11 1/2 months (say)'. Think of a bar chart, and the question 'In which month are most / the most sardines caught?' – Edwin Ashworth May 18 '18 at 9:41
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    @EdwinAshworth Re the terminology, besides 'superlative', it's called 'proportional quantifier' in CaGEL. – JK2 May 21 '18 at 4:35

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