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I was very confused in this sentence:

(Most/Virtually) every industry in our modern world requires the work of engineers.

I hold the view the answer is "most". I contend that "most" means more than 50% percent or almost of somebody/something and "virtually" is equivalent. I suppose both of them are correct but "most" is more appropriate.

However, there is only one correct answer, and it is "virtually". I have no idea why that one is right. If you choose "virtually", could you explain the reason for me?

Here is the full sentence:

________ every industry in our modern world requires the work of engineers.
A. Wholly
B. Hardly
C. Most
D. Virtually

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    There is no obvious difference between using "most every" and "virtually ever". Who says that "virtually" is the only correct answer? What evidence does he present? – David42 Aug 7 '17 at 15:49
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    This sounds like a grammar exercise of some kind, since you claim "there is only one correct answer". If I had to speculate though (since both most and virtually are both acceptable), I would say that virtually is chosen over most because of the word "every" that immediately follows, with the idea that: most and every are somewhat conflicting or redundant when used together, whereas virtually and every are more parallel in perspective. – user30379 Aug 7 '17 at 15:54
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    @DavidC Most as a synonym for almost is confined to informal registers. That might be one of the reasons why it's not considered "correct" in that sentence. – user3395 Aug 7 '17 at 15:58
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    Grammar Girl says The phrase most every does arise from people shortening almost to most, ... using most to mean "almost" arose in 16th century England, and is common in informal speech but rare in edited text. Personally, I'd call it "dialectal/slangy", but I'm BrE (and I'm guessing the usage is more common in AmE). – FumbleFingers Aug 7 '17 at 16:16
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    People who make tests like this tend to be very intolerant of informal usage or dialect in the answers. I would try to choose an answer that would be suitable for a very well-edited academic journal. "Virtually" meets this criterion, "most" does not, although (perhaps because I speak AmE) I instantly recognize the sentence as meaningful when the first word is "most". (The "more than 50%" meaning of "most" does not apply here, however; the only suitable interpretation is that it means "almost.") – David K Aug 7 '17 at 22:01
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Your interpretation of "most" meaning "more than 50%" is a determiner. For example, "Most dogs are friendly", most is a determiner of dogs.

However, in your sentence, a determiner doesn't fit at that position. You would need an adverb, and you need an adverb that can modify "every". Now "virtually" is an adverb that modify "every", and "virtually every" is a common combination.

"Most" can be used as an adverb. It has the special use of forming superlatives, but "every" isn't an adjective, so this adverbial meaning doesn't fit. "Most" also has a meaning of "almost". This meaning is chiefly American, and this would make "most" a possible answer, but not the most likely one. This usage is informal, and many language professors would be likely to insist on the use of the word "almost" - "almost every" rather than "most every".

The other two words don't fit, since they don't modify "every". So there are two possible correct answers. "virtually" and "most", with "virtually" being much more likely, especially in British English.

(dictionary source)

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    "'Most' also has a meaning of 'almost'. This meaning is chiefly American, and this would make 'most' a possible answer, but not the most likely one." As an American I'd say that usage is informal and idiomatic, and many language professors would be likely to insist on the use of the word "almost" - "almost every" rather than "most every". That is bound to be a matter of contention but I'd guess that's where the thinking in the OP's example about the "correct" answer came from. – Darren Ringer Aug 7 '17 at 19:14
  • Comment incorporated. – James K Aug 7 '17 at 19:27

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