Examples of this theory can be earliest found in Alan's book.

The sentence is meant to say that the theory can for the first time be found in Alan's book. Is the use of "earliest" idiomatic?

  • I wouldn't. "Examples of this theory can be found early in Alan's book." would be better, meaning the theory was explained in the first chapters of the book. "earliest" should modify a noun. – user3169 Mar 21 '18 at 22:37

It makes sense, but let me say it this way: I had to read it a few times to understand what it says. It's generally fairly awkward, stuffy, and formal and I wouldn't describe it as idiomatic. Certainly it is grammatically correct, though. I would personally switch it and say:

Examples of this theory can be found earliest in Alan's book.


Examples of this theory appear first in Alan's book.

| improve this answer | |
  • appear or appeared ? – Sasan Mar 21 '18 at 16:10
  • appeared first, or first appeared? – Sasan Mar 21 '18 at 16:11

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