Photosynthesis is considered by many to be the most important biological process on Earth. It is the process that captures essentially all energy for our ecosystem. Photosynthesis involves the highest energy processes of life; it is the process where (by far) most of the energy in our ecosystem is input. All other biological processes are exergonic (they lose the energy captured by photosynthesis) ― and thus all other processes involve less energy than photosynthesis. It is also the process where, by far, the most energy in our ecosystem is lost. Because the intermediates of photosynthesis are so reactive (and therefore dangerous), photosynthetic organisms must prevent their buildup by dissipating “excess” light energy. At full sunlight, regulatory dissipation can involve more than 75% of absorbed light energy. Consequently, typical agricultural crops store only about 1 % of their absorbed solar energy in the form of biomass.

Biology: The Dynamic Science, Volume 1, Units 1 & 2 By Peter J. Russell, Paul E. Hertz, Beverly McMillan

Isn't 'by far' used with the superlative form? I've heard and read 'by far the most' many times but not 'by far most'. Is it just a typo?


1 Answer 1


If you've noticed, these two instances of "most" occur in two slightly different phrases:

1) most of the energy


2) the most energy

"By far" could be omitted in both cases; it does not affect how the construction with "most" works. And it's not the superlative form in the sense of a superlative adjective ("energy" is not an adjective). "Most of something" means "the biggest share/part of something". "The most something" means (mostly) the same, but with a slight connotation of "the maximum possible amount". But for all practical purposes, these two variants are the same, you just need to remember that "most of" does not require "the" before it, while if there is no "of" after "most", it should have "the".

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