Is it wrong to omit "the" in my sentence because the adjective is followed by a noun?

This is the smartest student in my class.


1 Answer 1


This is the smartest student in my class.

You can not leave out the definite article in that sentence. You need a determiner for the noun. If the expression were:

This is my class's smartest student.

then the article "the" would be omitted, because the possessive "my class's" is a determiner that replaces the word "the".

This link discusses definite articles with superlatives before nouns:

PerfectEnglish "the with superlatives"
"When we use a superlative adjective ('the tallest student') before the noun, we generally use it with 'the'. This is because there's only one (or one group) of the thing we are talking about."

  • Thank you so much for your answer. So when a superlative adjective is used in a sentence before a noun "the" is not optional but before a superlative adverb is the article optional? For example, "I like this one most" or "the most", "best" or "the best". Commented Aug 21, 2020 at 17:13
  • Yes, I would say that in those two examples, "the" is optional and doesn't change the meaning. Commented Aug 21, 2020 at 17:57
  • Thank you very much. You explanation is very clear. Is it wrong to say that we can use or omit "the" before "best" without any change of meaning but when we use "most" with an adverb, the meaning of the sentence changes? For example, "You are the best." Or "You are best." "Choose the book you like the best." "Choose the book you like best." "Choose the book you like the most." "Choose the book you like most". No change in meaning. But if I have an adverb. "She walks most gracefully." Means she walks very gracefully. "She walks the most gracefully." She is compared to other people. Commented Aug 22, 2020 at 7:51
  • Your examples "are best" or "are the best" are predicate adjectives, not adverbs. The rules with predicate adjectives aren't necessarily the same as those for attributive adjectives (before a noun). Yes, the use of "most gracefully" is as an intensifier, not a superlative - comparable to "very". You might need to separate the issues and post some separate questions; that's a lot to deal with in a comment. Commented Aug 22, 2020 at 13:37

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