• Sreedhar is the most intelligent student.
  • Sreedhar is a most intelligent student  

What is the difference?


Usually there is only one 'most' intelligent student. If that's Sreedhar, then Sreedhar is the most intelligent student.

But we can easily imagine a class in which Sreedhar is very good at maths and science, another student is very good at history and geography, and yet another at art and music. The three of them are 'the three most intelligent students' and Sreedhar is one of them - Sreedhar is a most intelligent student.


I agree with @Sydney's explanation of "the most intelligent student." If every other student is less intelligent than Sreedhar, then Sreedhar is the most intelligent student.

I think "a most intelligent student" is slightly different. See Merriam-Webster's 2nd definition for adverb(1):

2 : to a very great degree

was most persuasive

This is the sense of most I understand from "a most intelligent student." It means "a very intelligent student." As a (modern) American English speaker I would not normally use this sense of most - it sounds old-fashioned to me, like something you might find in a Victorian English novel (though it could be that in other dialects it is actually a common usage that I am unaware of).

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