From the Cambridge Dictionary

Which aspects of the job do you most enjoy?

"most" means "very" in a formal setting.

so, the quotation is appropriate for a job interview but might not be suitable for a more casual situation, like new friends in a pub. For that case, which word could be the alternative?

Is my understanding correct?

  • 1
    'Most' in your sentence does not mean 'very', it means 'more than anything else'. There is nothing excessively formal about saying, for example, 'what I like most about this pub is the beer'. – Michael Harvey Jun 22 '20 at 8:53
  • The Cambridge definition is for the word aspect, that term is indeed quite formal. There are also the other definitions of "most", it's not formal if I ask "Which restaurant do you like most?" – Mari-Lou A Jun 22 '20 at 8:58
  • @MichaelHarvey Thank you. Does 'more than anything else' refer to something like the superlative form of an adjective? – RobertH Jun 22 '20 at 10:03
  • @Mari-LouA Thank you. In the sentence, "Which restaurant do you like most", does most means some sense of "the most"? – RobertH Jun 22 '20 at 10:05
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    @RobertH, 'more than anything else' means 'more than anything else relevant', so I might say 'this pub has good music, food, and décor, and comfortable chairs, but I like the beer most' – Michael Harvey Jun 22 '20 at 10:30

There are two usages of "most" which can be confused.

"This job is the most exciting (job) ever!"

This uses "most" in its superlative meaning: "much, more, most".

The other usage is the one you are thinking of:

"I find this job most exciting!"

which does indeed mean: "I find this job very exciting!"

How do you tell which one is being used?

If you see "most" without it being "the most" and without it being given in comparison with something else, it is most likely to mean "very".

Exercise for the student: at the end of the sentence above, which usage of "most" is being used? Be warned: it is subtle!

Finally, to answer your original question:

"Which aspects of the job do you most enjoy?"

uses "most" in its superlative meaning: "the most enjoyable aspects of the job."

  • Thank you. In the example I quoted, the listener is being asked about one aspect in comparison with other aspects of the job. Therefor, "most" there goes with its superlative meaning. Is my understanding correct? – RobertH Jun 27 '20 at 8:29

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