The with superlatives

February 20, 2011pdf

Nouns with superlative adjectives normally have the article the. Note that the is dropped if there is a possessive.

  • You are the most beautiful person I have ever met. (NOT You are most beautiful person I have ever met.)
  • He is the best player in the team. (NOT He is best player in the team.)
  • Jane is the tallest of the three sisters. (NOT Jane is tallest of the three sisters.)

Superlative adjectives in predicative position usually have the, though it is sometimes dropped in an informal style.

  • I am the best. (‘I am best’ is also possible in an informal style.)
  • Which of the boys is the cleverest? (OR Which of the boys is cleverest?)

The is sometimes dropped before superlative adverbs in an informal style.

  • He ran the fastest? (OR He ran fastest?)

The is not used with superlatives in predicative position, when we compare the same person or thing in different situations.

  • He is nicest in the evenings after he has had a few drinks. (NOT He is the nicest in the evenings …)

Here a man’s mood in different situations is being compared.

  • He is the nicest of my friends.  (NOT He is nicest of my friends.) (Here one person is being compared with several others.)
  • She works best in the mornings. (A woman’s work is being compared in different situations.)
  • She works the best in our team. (A woman is being compared with other members of the team.)
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