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  1. #1
    wotcha's Avatar
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    Default 'largest number of' and 'biggest number of'

    1. The large number of students
    2. The larger number of students.
    3. The largest number of students.

    Are these 3 sentences correct?

    And, can we use 'big, bigger and biggest' for large in eace sentence? - e.g. the giggest number of students. If we can't, why is that?

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: 'largest number of' and 'biggest number of'

    It's hard to say without more context- the use of articles would depend on that.

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    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: 'largest number of' and 'biggest number of'

    Quote Originally Posted by wotcha View Post

    Are these 3 sentences correct?
    They are not sentences at all.

    Try putting these phrases into complete sentences and we will be able to help you more effectively.

    Rover

  4. #4
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    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: 'largest number of' and 'biggest number of'

    Generally, Anglo-Saxon adjectives (big) are concrete, whereas French adjectives (large) are abstract. A number is an abstraction of abstractions, so the word large seems much more appropriate.

    In a classroom, kids or teachers might describe a written number as big, if they mean it is written over a large space on the paper or chalkboard.

    Colloquially, less educated people might say "a million is a big number" but they would sound a bit clumsy.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 'largest number of' and 'biggest number of'

    As a publisher and book editor, I offer the following observations, in the hope that they clarify the use of these words...

    Large and Big - are vague - 'the large tree leans over the stream' - gives you a general idea that the tree is larger than normal - but gives you no specific information - wheras 'huge tree' gives a clearer image -

    'the large student population in Oxford makes it difficult for single office-workers to find accommodation' Large is still vague - but it covers the situation graphically, carrying the general message - and covers a known scenario, without relying on data. 'Big' in both cases would work - but sounds childish

    Larger and Bigger - these are 'relative' terms and need to be used in expressions that compare one 'object' with another - where there are only 2 objects to compare.

    'There will be a larger pile of leaves beneath the tree this year than there has ever been before',
    'My cup is larger than yours',
    'The bigger the grant, the larger the number of students who apply for a place'

    Largest, Biggest - used when there are more than two objects to compare - ie three or more.
    'It was the largest tree in the field'.
    'It was the largest number of students that the teacher had ever taught in one class'.

    'It was the greatest thrill of her life to ride the largest elephant at the biggest zoo in the world...'

    Superlatives should be used with caution!

    I hope that this helps and I hope that it shows that 'large, larger and largest' have distinctly different meaningas and are not interchangeable - big, bigger and biggest have their place, but should be used as little as possible as they suggest a lack of alternative words - as in a child's limited language.

    All the best Prosaic

    Quote Originally Posted by wotcha View Post
    1. The large number of students
    2. The larger number of students.
    3. The largest number of students.

    Are these 3 sentences correct?

    And, can we use 'big, bigger and biggest' for large in eace sentence? - e.g. the giggest number of students. If we can't, why is that?

  6. #6
    wotcha's Avatar
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    Default Re: 'largest number of' and 'biggest number of'

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    They are not sentences at all.

    Try putting these phrases into complete sentences and we will be able to help you more effectively.

    Rover

    Sorry I meant 'clauses' actually.

  7. #7
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: 'largest number of' and 'biggest number of'

    Sorry I meant 'clauses' actually.
    No - they are phrases. A clause has a verb.

    Rover

  8. #8
    wotcha's Avatar
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    Default Re: 'largest number of' and 'biggest number of'

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    No - they are phrases. A clause has a verb.

    Rover

    OOPS another mistake ! Yes I meant phrases!

    Clause includes subject and verb but phrase not.

    ^^;;;;

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