I am writing a piece on a company which "strives to develop global leading products". Something irks me about this phrasing, and Grammarly keeps helpfully reminding me that this adverbial (or is it? it could be a paired adjective) usage of 'global' should be changed to the much more familiar 'globally leading'.

However, upon closer googling, this usage seems to be more widespread among native English websites than I thought.

Is this simply a common mistake? Or is there a semantic difference between the two? I surmise that the 'global' in 'develop global leading products' may be intended to modify the verb 'develop', instead of the adjective and noun 'leading products', and thus modifies the scale of the developing activity rather than the successfulness of the products. Or is it a paired adjective, with 'global' and 'leading' on the same level? What do you think?

  • I don't know why you say the much more familiar 'globally leading'. See this written usage NGram showing that, if anything, the adjectival rather than adverbial form a global leading is in fact slightly more common. Mar 8, 2022 at 14:02
  • ...note that the sequence a leading global is much, much more common - but that adjectival form is nearly always applied to organisations rather than products (the most common words to follow a leading global... are provider, power, supplier, manufacturer, player, company, producer...). Mar 8, 2022 at 14:07
  • I believe my confusion stems from believing that globally is the only correct adverbial form of global. I can't deny that the NGram data suggest that global leading is indeed more common, but it still strikes me as somehow incorrect. Mar 8, 2022 at 15:12
  • Well, the link is too long for a comment, but I think it's worth you noting the results of a Google Books "wildcard" search for a leading global [asterisk]. Not one of the the top 10 most common words appearing in the "[asterisk]" position refers to anything like a product - they're practically all references to "producers". On that basis alone, I wouldn't bother about whether explicitly adverbial globally or "flat adverb" global best suits your context. I'd just forget about using that word-pair for products. Mar 9, 2022 at 11:09

2 Answers 2


The difference between 'global' and 'globally' could be compared to the two different meanings of 'world'. "The world" in one context can refer to the planet earth, but in another context it could just refer to the people in it, the way they are organised, the populated world etc.

Likewise, 'global' generally means that something concerns all parts of the world, or at least a considerable proportion of it. 'Globally' generally means that something encompasses the entire planet, or includes all things.

'Global leading' seems correct to me, as it is not as all-encompassing as 'globally'. It allows for exceptions. For example, a particular smartphone manufacturer might be described as a global leader, yet there may be one or more specific markets where they are not. To say they are leading 'globally' would sound like an exaggeration.

On a side note, 'global leading' is one of those phrases that has been overused to the point that even the people saying it don't really know what it means. Mostly, you'll hear organisations described as 'global leaders', which means that they are leading the way for their peers on a global scale. You also hear of research or technology being 'global-leading' if it is shaping what others are doing, following the research or imitating the tech. It seems a little odd to me to describe a specific product as 'global-leading'. I think many get confused with the term 'leading', which in the context of products just means that it is a top seller - it is leading in terms of number of sales. As you probably know, technology that is truly 'global leading' does not always lead the way in sales. Cutting-edge tech is often too expensive for most people who wait for other manufacturers to be led by it and produce more affordable equivalents.


It depends on what it means.

Strives to develop global, leading products

Is grammatically correct. In this case, it means they strive to develop products that are global, and (separately) leading.

Strives to develop globally leading products

Means something slightly different. In this case, they are talking about products that lead globally.

So, to sum it up, when you say globally leading, the globally is referring to the leading, while in global, leading, they are separate words, both referring to the products.

  • I’ve realised this might be a little hard to read, sorry! What I’m saying is it depends if they’re making products that lead all over the world, or if they’re making products that are all over the world and lead.
    – Buzzyy
    Mar 8, 2022 at 11:57
  • Yeah putting a comma between the two adjectives makes sense to me, I wonder why that isn't done more. Agreed with the rest too. The only problem is that the original phrasing lacks a comma, which makes me feel there's something wrong with it. Mar 8, 2022 at 15:18
  • @WhatsThere , yes, technically you would need to add a comma there.
    – Buzzyy
    Mar 8, 2022 at 15:25

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