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Hi,

I think CoolBreeze and CalifJim have written some very good posts about this topic. Can you help me to see it better?

When is it correct to use 'most' before an adjective and when is it correct to use 'the most' be an adjective?

He is most impressive when he puts on that King's attire and acts like he is a benevolent king of the nation.

He is the most impressive when he puts on that King's attire and acts like he is a benevolent king of the nation.
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I don't think it was me. These confuse me, too!

In this case, I take most to mean very or quite, so I would not use the.

CJ
I agree with CJ, but it can change depending on the context:

He is the most impressive of us all when he puts on that King's attire and acts like he is a benevolent king of the nation.
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BelieverHe is most impressive when he puts on that King's attire and acts like he is a benevolent king of the nation.
Hi Believer

I do recall writing about the relative and absolute superlatives on this forum. The absolute superlative is one of the most confusing and vague phenomena of English grammar. Quite a few usage "experts" say there is no absolute superlative in English. I assume many of them know no other language and thus don't necessarily even know what the absolute superlative consists in.

Your sentence is ambiguous. I agree with CalifJim; one of its meanings is very impressive, extremely impressive, and that would be interpreting most impressive to be an absolute superlative.

However, we can also say:
He is [at his] most impressive when he...

Adding at his takes away the ambiguity and we are now comparing the man to himself, not other people, but at his is not required. He is more or less impressive in other situations as well but not as impressive as he is when he "puts on that King's attire and acts like he is a benevolent king of the nation." This usage is not absolute superlative because real comparison is involved even though the comparison is not with other people.

The absolute superlative is not this easy in English. Sometimes there is absolutely no difference in form between the relative and the absolute superlative. No wonder misunderstandings may occur as some people understand a structure differently from some others. There are people who think this ambiguity makes English difficult. In my opinion it only makes English a little inexact.

Cheers
CB
Thank you so much, CoolBreeze, and of course, CalifJim and Marius.

A while back, I asked for the correction of several sentences. I think the number of that post, if moderators have numbers assigned to each post, is 364191. I want draw attention to three sentences and the corrections made in regard to them by Clive. Why did he put or for some cases, deleted the article 'the'?

My sentences:

Who are two people that were most influential in your life and made most impact? In what ways did they impact you?

Please tell use two most important personal qualities that you would place most importance and place the highest priorities in choosing your potential mate if this question is not too personal in nature to you.

What are two books that made most impact to you?

Clive's corrections:

What are the two people that have been the most influential in your life? In what ways did they impact you?

Please tell us the two personal qualities that you would place most importance on in choosing your potential mate, if this question is not too personal in nature to you.

What are the two books that have made the most impact on you?

I think I do understand the reasons behind most of the corrections:

I should write "the two people", "the two personal qualities" and "the two books" because I am restricting to only two books among many that have been available to me that meet those specific qualifications. Maybe you can explain this to make me understand it better. I think these illustrate the concept behind it more clearly.

What are two things that you would buy if you had a million dollars?

What are the two things that you would buy if you had a million dollars?

For the "the most impact," I think "the" is necessary to say "the most impact" and not "very big impact."

But why did Clive wrote them as these?

What are the two people that have been the most influential (and not "most influential" without the "the"??) in your life?

Please tell us the two personal qualities that you would place most importance (why not "the most importance"?? I did write as "most importance" in my origjnal post because it felt natural but couldn't lay out the valid reason.) on in choosing your potential mate, if this question is not too personal in nature to you?

Thank you in advance.
You want the here because you're talking about the specific ones which were the best in that respect. You're making a selection from several influential people.

Who are the two people that have been the most influential (and not "most influential" without the "the"??) in your life?

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BelieverBut why did Clive wrote them as these?

What are the two people that have been the most influential (and not "most influential" without the "the"??) in your life?

Please tell us the two personal qualities that you would place most importance (why not "the most importance"?? I did write as "most importance" in my origjnal post because it felt natural but couldn't lay out the valid reason.) on in choosing your potential mate, if this question is not too personal in nature to you?
Hi Believer

I hope Clive won't mind my butting in. He'll probably give his opinion later - and it may differ from mine. After all, English is his native language and I'm just a student.

Who are the two people that have been the most influential (and not "most influential" without the "the"??) in your life?
Like Marius, I would certainly say Who are if I were talking about people. If there's a noun, what is possible:
What boy wouldn't like a holiday like that!

If you want the relative superlative, in other words comparison with other people, you need the. If you want the absolute superlative, which in this case in my opinion probably isn't what the speaker wants to say but of course it is grammatically correct, you leave out the. In other words, leaving out the changes the meaning to:

Who are the two people that have been very/extremely influential in your life?

As for the most importance, I would indeed use the article as this is a case of real comparison, and therefore I would employ the relative superlative. I don't know why Clive wants to leave out the.

CB