The modifier most is commonly used in English in a wide variety of situations. You are probably familiar with the use of most in the superlative form, but there are other uses as well. Below you will find explanations of each of the different ways most is used to modify nouns, as well as in the superlative form and as an adverb. (The) Most is different than more which you can learn about on this page dedicated to the uses of more in English.
'The most' is used in the superlative form with adjectives of two or more syllables. The opposite of this form is 'the least' (i.e. I enjoy corn the least of all the vegetables.)
- California is the most important state for the US economy.
- I think she is the most intelligent person I have ever met.
One of the Most in the Superlative Form
It's also common to use 'one of' before 'the most' in superlative forms to refer to something that is among a group of the most of a quality. The opposite of this form is 'one of the least' (i.e. That is one of the least interesting films this year.)
- Peter is one of the most reliable people on this planet.
- Golden Retrievers are one of the most likable dog breeds.
Most + Noun = Determiner
'Most' is used before a noun as a determiner to speak in general. Remember that the plural form is used when speaking in general about countable items or people (Most people enjoy a vacation in the tropics). When speaking about uncountable objects, use the singular form (Most steel is used in construction).
- Most students would like to take a year off from studies to travel.
- Sharon said most food sold in supermarkets contains preservatives.
Most of + Determiner + Noun
Use 'most of the / a / this, etc. + noun' when referring more specific objects. Remember that 'the' is used to indicate a specific object that both the listener and the speaker understand, whereas 'a' is used to speak about something listeners do not which specific instance is referred to. 'This, these, that or those' can be used as well as possessive adjectives such as 'my, your, his, etc.'
- Most of my time is spent in a classroom teaching English.
- Sharon said that most of these trees were planted in 1878 by the organization.
Most can be used alone when the noun being modified is understood through context. For example, during a conversation, you may refer to a particular group of people and use 'most' to indicate 'most of the people we are discussing'.
- I think most believe the economy will continue to slowly improve.
- (Speaking to a friend about food items) I bought most at the supermarket downtown.
(The) Most as Adverb
(The) Most can also be used as an adverb to describe a that someone does or feels something the most compared to others.
- I like raspberry jam the most.
- She was hurt by John the most.
Most = Verb in Formal English
'Most' can be used to mean very in formal English. This form is not common in everyday conversations, but you may certainly hear it in films such as historical fiction, stories about kings and queens, etc.
- I find it most disturbing that you continue to telephone.
- She felt the afternoon outing was most enjoyable.