Shangai is bigger than any other city 'in' the world

. Can we also say it like

bigger than any other city of the world?

Are they both correct?

  • Prefer superlative and not comparative when you are talking about the city that is the most populated (biggest in your language here!) as compared to any other city in the world. In case of stating the population, it's always superlative. The most populated country, state or city etc. Shanghai is the most populated (biggest?) city in the world. – Maulik V Jan 29 '14 at 9:34
  • Maulik, If we say it in comparative, 'in' or 'of' should we use? – Vijay Jan 29 '14 at 9:41
  • If you compare, it'll take the other city and not the world! Shanghai is bigger than Tokyo! Anyway, both are correct. I checked many references. Nevertheless, I'd prefer in the world for stating the population and of the world if I'm talking about some possession or connection. Shanghai is the commercial city of China. See the possession there. – Maulik V Jan 29 '14 at 9:45
  • Check my edited answer. I found the exact thing in Swan's. – Maulik V Feb 11 '14 at 13:01

In this context, I would only say in the world. Maybe that's because I'm an American. But of the world doesn't sound right to my ears. In fact, if you google anything with a superlative + on, for example, the biggest building of the world it gives you only answers with in the world.

  • 1
    I'm British and I too would only say in the world. – starsplusplus Jan 29 '14 at 11:39
  • Thank you pal. What does it mean to say: creativity is being "demanded of executives"? – Vijay Jan 29 '14 at 11:39
  • @ Vijay. We usually address men with "pal". So, be careful if you don't know whether the person you're talking to is male or female. :-) – Babs Jan 29 '14 at 11:53
  • Ya thank you. How to call you then? Also i remind you of answering the question in previous comment pls. – Vijay Jan 29 '14 at 11:59
  • You just say: Thanks. You can't make any mistakes with that. Regarding your other question, I recommend you post a new question. – Babs Jan 29 '14 at 12:04

Biggest city in AND biggest city of -both seem okay to me. Also, I searched on COCAE and some other resources and could find examples of both.

Nevertheless, if you still want to be specific, I may see a subtle difference there. I'd use of when talking about possession or connection in this case.

Shanghai is the biggest city (most populated) in the world. But...
Shanghai is the commercial city of China - See the possession there.

This is the exact thing I found in Swan's 3rd Edition, Section 139

With superlative degree, we don't use of with a singular word referring to a place or group.

In fact, this was mentioned under the title of 35 mistakes that intermediate students often make. Which is the biggest city of the world - Incorrect. Which is the biggest city in the world - Correct.

The superlative degree takes of before plurals and before lot -

She's the fastest player of them all.
He's the best of the lot.


As others note, the conventional English phrasing is "in the world".

Note that this has nothing to do with the fact that you are saying it is "biggest", or using a superlative in general. In general we refer to places being "in", "on", or "at" other places, not "of" other places. For example, we would say, "Shanghai is a big city in China", not "of China". Or, "I visited a fascinating city in China named Shanghai." Likewise "Devon is a county in Britain", not "of Britain". "Elm Street is in the north section of town." "My apartment is in the basement." Etc.

We sometimes use "of" for a place-in-a-place if we are trying to express the idea of belonging rather than location. Like, "The cities of China are crowded." "Wall Street is the heart of New York."

There are cases where either "in" or "of" would work, when either the meaning of location or belonging could be appropriate.

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