Let's sat I have a set of 10 different positive numbers. I want to pick the 4 with the smaller (or smallest?) value. Should I say "the four smaller values" or "the four smallest values"?

In other words, which of the following is correct?

1, 2, 3, 4 are the smaller positive natural numbers

1, 2, 3, 4 are the smallest positive natural numbers

1 Answer 1


Smaller is used when you are comparing.

in a list like: 5, 8, 20, 15, 7, 2

15 is smaller than 20

The smallest number is 2

The four smallest numbers in this list are: 2, 5, 7 and 8.

So your answer would be:

1, 2, 3, 4 are the smallest positive natural numbers.

  • The answer "would be" or it is? (Also I edited your question to get rid of the mark up text. Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 21:31
  • @Cássio Salles, thank you for the answer. By picking up four numbers I am implicitly doing a comparison among all the numbers. Therefore, I am not still certain that the comparative form is "wrong". By instinct I could say "the four smaller numbers", but I am not a native speaker. Therefore, I leave the question open to more answers.
    – orestis21
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 8:22

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