1. Russia is the most powerful country after the US.


  1. Russia is the second most powerful country after the US.

Question: Which one of the above should I use to convey that Russia is second to US in terms of overall power.

Personally, I was inclined to believe that number one is the correct version, because to me it is more logically sound to think of 'after' as 'excluding' or 'following'. However I found more instances of number 2 being used on online forums.

Many thanks in advance.

  • What about China? Is it third most powerful after US or second most powerful after Russia? – SovereignSun Apr 3 '17 at 14:21

Both sentences are correct, though I would favour the latter.

The first one requires a little more thought by the listener because, when parsing the sentence on-the-fly, the after the US clause changes Russia's position from first to second.

For the second sentence, the first part stands on its own:

Russia is the second most powerful country

and the after the US clause simply provides additional information (who is #1): it's an afterthought, and you could insert a comma to separate it from the main sentence.

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