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    #1

    Question 'most' vs 'the most'

    Dear Teacher,
    What is the difference in meaning and grammatical function of 'most' and 'the most' in the folllowing sentences?
    (a) What worries me most now is your distance.
    (b) As a teenager what worries me the most is how my peers will look at me.
    Thanks for your help.
    Anne

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    #2

    Re: 'most' vs 'the most'

    Quote Originally Posted by . . . Anne Trinh
    What is the difference in meaning and grammatical function of '[I
    most'[/I] and 'the most' in the following sentences?
    (a) What worries me most now is your distance.
    (b) As a teenager what worries me the most is how my peers will look at me.
    . . .
    Dear Teacher and friends,
    Is there anything wrong with my previous question? Let me put it in another way then. What is the difference between the following verb patterns?

    (a) V + Obj. + "most" (as in "what worries me most . . .")
    (b) V + Obj. + "the most" (as in "what worries me the most . . .")

    Thanks for your help.
    Anne

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    #3

    Re: 'most' vs 'the most'

    I am not a teacher.

    Either sentence could have "the most" or "most." Either way is perfectly acceptable.

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    #4

    Re: 'most' vs 'the most'

    Dear SoothingDave,
    Thanks for your help, now I understand that ‘most’ and ‘the most’ can be used interchangeably in those two sentences, although I realize that the meanings might be somewhat different.
    In my opinion, ‘most’ in sentence (a) does not imply an absolute comparison. Instead, it simply means ‘very much’, in the same way when we say ‘I’d be most grateful . . .’, ‘I was most impressed . . .’, which could be paraphrased by using ‘very much’ instead of ‘most’ without altering the original meaning (I’d be very much grateful . . . / I was very much impressed . . .).
    ‘The most’ in sentence (b), as far as I understand, does imply a comparison. This sentence can be rewritten as follows: “As a teenager, I have a lot of things to worry about, but how my peers will look at me worries me the most (of all)”.
    I’m not a native speaker of English. Please kindly correct me, if my understanding is wrong.
    Thank you very much for your help.
    Anne
    Last edited by AnneTrinh; 28-Aug-2010 at 11:29. Reason: clarity

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    #5

    Re: 'most' vs 'the most'

    Quote Originally Posted by AnneTrinh View Post
    Dear Teacher,
    What is the difference in meaning and grammatical function of 'most' and 'the most' in the folllowing sentences?
    (a) What worries me most now is your distance.
    (b) As a teenager what worries me the most is how my peers will look at me.
    Thanks for your help.
    Anne
    NOT A TEACHER

    (1) According to Usage and Abusage by Eric Partridge:

    most is absolute:

    What I should most like to do would be to die without knowing

    I was even in danger of dying.

    the most is relative:

    Which do you like the most -- cricket, lawn tennis, or golf?

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    #6

    Re: 'most' vs 'the most'

    I wouldn't say that was a real distiction there Parser. In both cases, the most or most is an adverbial: exchange it for 'best of all'

    In Anne's sentences, exchange it for 'more than anything'

    I would say, there is no difference between the two adverbs 'most' or 'the most' at least in Anne's sentences.

    'most' is not so absolute: there is still the double superlative 'mostest'

    The hostest with the mostest!

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