Hello! This week on Ask a Teacher, we answer a question from Rebecca, an English teacher in China.
I am Rebecca from China. I am also an English teacher for kids. I am confused by the two phrases as follows:
1. I like summer and winter best.
2. I like summer and winter most.
Which one is correct? What’s the difference grammatically?
Thank you for writing to us. At first, I thought the statements sounded incorrect. Then, I saw that they may simply be incomplete.
Let us begin with “best.” It is an adverb, a word that describes time, manner, place, or degree. Your grammar book will say it is the superlative form of “well.” A superlative adverb shows something is to the greatest degree of a quality. Here is an example of “best” as an adverb:
Yao Ming is best known for his work in the NBA.
The problem I saw was that you said two seasons were better than all the others. Maybe you enjoy swimming and skiing, sports that are not as easy to do outdoors in spring and fall. You can add a phrase to explain this.
Of the four seasons, I like summer and winter best. That’s because I can swim in summer and ski in winter.
You could also say,
For my sports, swimming and skiing, I like summer and winter best.
Now let us look at “most.” It is also a superlative adverb. It means “in or to the greatest degree.” You can add some information to your statement about traveling in China to make it clearer.
I like spring and fall most for visiting Hangzhou.
The short answer to your question, Rebecca, is that there is no grammatical difference between your phrases. But make sure your students understand that “best” and “most” can also be used as superlative adjectives, as in these examples:
The best seasons for visiting Shanghai are spring and fall.
I think the Silk Museum is the most interesting one in Hangzhou.
Note that both of these statements have “the” before the adjective. That is one easy way to tell the difference between superlative adverbs and adjectives.
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And that’s Ask a Teacher.
I’m Jill Robbins.
Dr. Jill Robbins wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
kid – n. informal. a young child
confused – adj. unable to understand or think clearly
phrase – n. a group of two or more words that express a single idea but do not usually form a complete sentence
superlative – adj. grammar. of or relating to the form of an adjective or adverb that is used to indicate the greatest degree of a particular quality
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