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I want to say, for example, I have many apples, I want to select some apples according to the descending order of size, but I don't want to explicitly mention how many apples I select, I just select few of them with large sizes.

If I only select the largest one, I can say the "largest size of apple". If I only select some apples which are relatively large. I can say "apples with large sizes". But I want to select "a few largest" of apples. I don't know how to express correctly.

I have some ideas about how to express. Can I say

The top few sizes of apples are selected.

The largest few sizes of apples are selected.

The larger few sizes of apples are selected.

Which one is correct?

Re-edit: I want to leave the "size" in the final phrase.

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    Regarding the word "size", native English speakers are very unlikely to use the word "size" in this kind of sentence because the word "largest" implies the largest in size. Sometimes the meaning of "largest" is ambiguous, but not in these phrases. Aug 31, 2017 at 20:42
  • @ToddWilcox Yes. Idiomatically, the most likely expression is, "A few of the larger apples were selected". (I'm also a little puzzled as to why the present tense "are" is used and not "were". The present tense would not normally be used here unless you were describing a procedure, rather than something you did.)
    – WS2
    Aug 31, 2017 at 20:54
  • I selected a few of the larger apples.
    – J.R.
    Aug 31, 2017 at 21:03
  • 'I want to leave the "size" in the final phrase.' Please explain why you want the word "size" in the answer.
    – James K
    Aug 31, 2017 at 21:59

2 Answers 2

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I actually wouldn't say "sizes of" at all, because we're not selecting sizes, we're selecting apples, and saying "sizes of" is redundant if we're already saying "largest". I would say

The largest few apples are selected

or

A few of the largest apples are selected

(For reference, I would say "largest sizes of" only if I were explicitly referring to sizes as a particular concept, like "The largest sizes of clothes made by the company cost a little more than the others.")

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  • if I want to add the word "size" in the phrase, then how to say? Aug 31, 2017 at 18:58
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    If you say "the larger size of apples", the word "larger" will be your adjective, which defines the "size", not the "apple". This is grammatically wrong. Moreover, large is associated with size only. The combination of those two words is a semantical mistake.
    – Sina
    Aug 31, 2017 at 19:25
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    The first feels awkward to me - probably because I've never heard it or said it. The second is natural, except the use of "are selected" at the end. If I just say this naturally it would come out, "I'm going to pick some of the largest apples." Or "Please get me the three largest apples." Or "I'm picking a few of the largest apples I have." Note that the three largest apples means literally the three apples picked will all be larger than the rest of the apples, while a few of the largest apples implies that the selected apples are on the larger side, but are not always the largest. Aug 31, 2017 at 20:46
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    As Stangdon says, what you're selecting is apples, is not sizes; so if you absolutely must get the term size in there you should say "A few apples of largest size are selected". Note that you don't sayof the largest size, which suggests a partition of the apples into a small number of 'sizes' rather than each apple being of its own 'size'. Aug 31, 2017 at 21:00
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    @ToddWilcox for what it's worth, the first one doesn't sound strange to me at all as a native speaker (AmE). "The largest few" seems like a common construction to me. I probably wouldn't use it in formal writing, though.
    – user428517
    Aug 31, 2017 at 22:17
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I think you can avoid the awkwardness of this completely by using the phrase "largest/biggest apples". For example:

I saved the biggest apples to be given as treats to the children.

I put the largest apples on display.

by using "est" and plural of the noun you can usually assume that you are talking about the small subset of nouns that fit the adjective. (usually the est ending is used in the singular, so by assigning this to a plural noun it is usually assumed there are not many of them).

However if you want to further qualify the phrase to be even more exclusionary you could say "only the largest" or "only the biggest" example:

Only the largest apples were selected for the pie.

However if you wanted a randomized subset of the subset of the largest you may say as the answer above says "A few of the largest apples were selected".

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