most or the most

Ask the wise old owl

Wise Old Owl

Most or the most?

There’s a difference between “most” and “the most”. Some people use them incorrectly, often because “the most” would be correct in their native language. However, in English, there is a difference.

These sentences are correct:
Most of my friends like dogs.
Her name is Katherine, but most people call her Katie.
In England, most snakes are harmless, but you should still take care.

“The most” would not be appropriate in any of these sentences.

“The most” is used when you are making a comparison, not when you are talking about the majority of things or people in a certain situation:

I knew that you would want the most expensive dish on the menu.
Question seven was the most difficult question on the paper.
This was the most popular article on my blog last year.

Expensive, difficult and popular are all adjectives.

If you can’t decide whether you need “most” or “the most” in your writing, see whether the next word is an adjective. If it isn’t, you probably don’t need “the most”!

More articles in this series

If you want to read the rest of the articles in this series, go to the wise old owl’s main page.

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