I am correcting a Spanish-to-English translation that states,

The primary grains being produced in the world are maize, wheat, rice, barley, sorghum and oats.

I would prefer to use cereals rather than grains, but am not sure whether I should use "the major cereals being produced" or "the primary cereals being produced", or perhaps "most of the cereals".

It is referring to the quantity of cereals which are being produced globally at present.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  • 2
    General Reference. In this context, cereal, grains, and cereal grains are synonymous, as are major, primary, and most [common]. Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 22:36
  • 4
    @FumbleFingers is correct, and I will add that, at least in AmE, grains or cereal grains would be much preferable to just cereals so as not to be confused with Cheerios, Corn Flakes, and Rice Krispies. Also, corn is a much more common name for maize
    – Jim
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 1:18

2 Answers 2


While it is often used as a synonym for primary, consider the term principal

first in order of importance; main: the country’s principal cities

It sounds more apt in your context

The principal cereals being produced in the world are maize, wheat, rice, barley, sorghum and oats.


First, the grains are a back door input to the front door output of cereal produce, albeit that it is indirect as respects livestock feed. So, to highlight statistically significant produce output most concisely, be it Spanish or English, the descriptive coupling of adjective to noun--viz, "cereal grains"--would not be inconsistent with accepted, and commonly understood (and likewise understandable) agribusiness, commodity, ...or rhetorical nomenclature, whether it be English or Spanish.

The introduction of some other, supposedly cardinal or embellishing descriptor is both redundant (primacy or importance being already implicit within the list form of presentation) as well as immaterial (what need is there to know by inference of grains not used, comparatively speaking, in statistically significant amounts in the value-added-cereals supply chain).

Moreover, avoidance of "overindulgences" in rhetoric is most often the safest course in translating, not only for the sake of terseness, but also to avoid translation pitfalls.

So I vote for less-is-more: The cereal grains most produced in the world are....

  • Lex, your answer is stuffed full of four- and five-syllable words. Using many long words where a few short ones will do injures clarity. I've downvoted, because the answer is not useful as it stands, but will be glad to upvote if you reduce the answer's pomp. Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 17:00

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