(the definite article) + the superlative of adverb

English grammar questions, answered by Alan

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Teo
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(the definite article) + the superlative of adverb

Post by Teo » Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:56 pm

1. Among Ted, Lily and Linda, Ted studies hardest.

2. Among Ted, Lily and Linda, Ted studies the hardest.

3. Of all the boys, Jim runs fastest.

4. Of all the boys, Jim runs the fastest.

5. The dancer danced best in the show last night.

6. The dancer danced the best in the show last night.

7. Judy cooked worst last night.

8. Judy cooked the worst last night.

Which of the above sentences is NOT acceptable?

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Alan
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Re: (the definite article) + the superlative of adverb

Post by Alan » Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:48 pm

Only #2 and 4 are complete and well-formed. The others are, to varying degrees, unnatural, incomplete or semantically absurd. To save you posting yet more of the same: the article with an adverbial superlative is required when comparison is between different persons/things; it is omitted when comparison is between different levels of performance/execution by the same person or thing, as in

He runs fastest when he has had a good breakfast.

In such cases a generic time adverbial (i.e. denoting the kind of time, rather than any particular time) is required. Where a specific time adverbial is used, we normally insert a possessive adjective, as in

He ran his fastest (ever) last night.

I trust that examination of your sentences in light of these principles will serve to clarify where you have gone wrong.

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