I have this doubt about a suggestion from Microsoft Word Processor. My original sentence is as follows:

This bird is the most commonly killed species in Southern Ocean fisheries and its breeding success at many sites is reduced because of predation by invasive cats and rodents.

Microsoft Word suggests I change it to most killed species. Is this actually more concise language as Word suggests? I am concerned the idea of the sentence will change.

  • 4
    If you check the definitions for most, you won't find any usage like this. To me, "most commonly killed" or "most often killed" are the best options. In any case, I wouldn't trust any machine translator or grammar checker implicitly. It seems "concise" doesn't cut it here.
    – user3169
    Sep 4, 2021 at 2:02
  • 2
    Your suggestion is much clearer than Microsoft's idea so I would leave it.
    – mdewey
    Sep 4, 2021 at 15:18
  • In nearly all questions brought here because of grammar checkers, the learner was right and the grammar checker was wrong. The technology is still in its infancy. They're a handy but crude tool
    – gotube
    Sep 12, 2021 at 0:21
  • "The most killed species", while it's clear enough what it means really, gives a slight comical impression of meaning that birds of this species end up somehow deader than any other species!
    – A. B.
    Sep 28, 2021 at 10:17

2 Answers 2


I agree with the suggested change that it is more concise without changing the meaning in a significant way.

That being said, your original sentence sounds fine to me and I would have not have suggested this change if I was proofreading your text.


There are certainly precedents for using most before a past participle. Here is a typical example:

It consistently listed among the top 10 NHK programs broadcast on its general channel and among the 20 most watched shows on Japanese television in greater Tokyo. - Broadcasting Politics in Japan, Ellis S Krauss, 2018

Examples of killed being used in this way are much less common, but here is an example:

Research by MacNulty and others in Yellowstone shows that wolves primarily kill elk calves and cows; they don't start targeting the adults until they are ten to eleven years old, with most killed being older than thirteen - In Wolf Country: the power and politics of reintroduction,Jim Yuskovich, 2015

That said, I think your sentence is fine as it stands.

  • That elk example is a different construction - it means "most of those killed" rather than "those most often killed".
    – A. B.
    Sep 28, 2021 at 10:15
  • @A.B. And the mathematical difference between those two being....
    – JavaLatte
    Sep 28, 2021 at 12:42
  • Probably, I was tired at the time and am tired now too.
    – A. B.
    Sep 29, 2021 at 10:53

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