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We have a common usage in English like "Of all the students, Alice has got the highest marks in physics".

So far so good. And I have always liked this usage.

However, I have recently seen and heard a different way of saying the same thing. At first I thought it may be incorrect, but I have heard it being used in the British House of Commons, too, by a Scottish Member Parliament.

He apparently wanted to emphasize Germany's support for Scotland and so he wanted to say, Of all the countries, Germany has the highest level of support for Scotland to remain in the EU, but instead of saying it like that, he said:

"Germany has the highest level of support of any European country for Scotland to remain in the EU."

This second structure sounded a little bit odd to me. May be I thought it might give a different meaning like, It is the Germany that is getting support of all European countries, whereas actually Germany is the one that is actually giving support to another country".

Anyway, I have searched for this structure to see if it is used in formal environments and I have come across a similar usage on another web site which had a sentence "Germany received the most asylum seekers of any European country."

Again if I were to make that sentence, I would say "Of all European countries, Germany received the most asylum seekers".

So, what do you think? Is this second structure a proper English that won't cause any ambiguity or is it simply common daily usage?

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    It's not wrong. In fact, I think it sounds better than the option you propose. – J.R. Jul 12 '17 at 19:29
  • Can you edit your question to tell us why you think the second structure might be wrong? That will help us to provide a useful answer. (+1 @J.R.) – P. E. Dant Jul 12 '17 at 21:36
  • I agree with J.R., it's not wrong. Your preferred phrase sounds very formal to me, while the other is colloquial to my ear. – JBH Jul 12 '17 at 22:12
  • how about the possibilty that second structure might give a different meaning like, It is the Germany that is getting support of all European countries, whereas Germany is the one that is actually giving support to another country. – yunus Jul 15 '17 at 8:10
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Is this second structure a proper English that won't cause any ambiguity or is it simply common daily usage?

  • Yes, it's proper English.
  • It may cause ambiguity sometimes, but the same is probably true of your preferred version. Ambiguity is a part of language.
  • It is indeed common daily usage. There are some languages where "proper" and "common" usage stand in stark contrast, but English isn't one of them. (There's obviously a wide range from extremely colloquial speech to extremely formal writing, but there are no bright lines anywhere along that range.)

That said, the hypothetical example in your question title is wrong: it should be "of any student", singular, not "of any students".

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