4

It appears that the stronger argument is in favour of grandparents living independently.

We normally use the with superlative adjectives. Here the is used before stronger as a comparative adjective; making me confused.

7

That's because the definite article chooses someone/thing that is specific. Say,

Two boxers are fighting. The stronger one wins.

Here, the article picks one from those two.

However, you are right that the definite article is common with superlative degrees.

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6

If the sentence read:

It appears that the strongest argument is...

that would mean that there are at least three arguments.

However, since it reads:

It appears that the stronger argument is...

that seems to imply we are talking about two opposing stances on an issue.

Either way, when we refer to just one of those multiple arguments, we can use the definite article:

  • It appears the weaker argument is...
  • It appears the most foolish argument is...
  • It appears the less sensible argument is...
  • It appears the easier option would be...

and so forth.

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  • 1
    There is no reason why "the strongest" can't apply to two. – Paul Childs Aug 14 '18 at 9:56
  • 2
    @Paul Childs: Indeed. Doubtless the vast majority of contexts for may the best man win involve just two contenders. But I'm sure most instances of the sequence two children the eldest / elder would be for the construction under consideration here, and charting those strongly supports J.R.'s assertion re the norm. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Aug 14 '18 at 12:26
  • @PaulC - Good point. Some pedantic grammarians might disagree with you, but I won't. – J.R. Aug 14 '18 at 15:24

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