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a. Ron was most interested in our offer.

b. Ron was the most interested in our offer.

c. Ron was interested in our offer the most.

d. Ron was interested in our offer most.

I think in (b), (c) and (d) 'most' is a marker for the superlative. Ron was interested in our offer more than in the others.

(b), (c) and (d) could also mean he was interested in our offer more than the other people were.

I find (a) ambiguous. It might have both of the meanings of (c) and it could also mean he was 'very interesed in our offer'.

Am I correct?

Many thanks

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    I agree with your conclusions
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 13:33
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    I would regard 'extremely interested' as the primary meaning of (a). Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 13:55
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    (c) and (d) aren't idiomatic, so there's no point in wasting time analyzing them. (a) means Ron was very interested, and (b) means he was more interested than anyone else. In case (b), even if in fact Ron was only slightly interested, he might still be more interested than everyone else (who might all be totally uninterested). Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 14:27
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    c) is okay in speaking, just not in writing.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 16:09
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    @Lambie: To you, maybe. Certainly not to me. Sounds like something a non-native speaker might say. Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 17:44

1 Answer 1

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In U.S. English, (a), (b), and (c) are idiomatic whereas (d) is not idiomatic. (c), however, is not in a particularly formal register and may have multiple meanings.

Although I greatly respect Colin Fine, I do not find (a) to be ambiguous. It means

Ron was very interested in our offer.

It does not imply that Ron was more interested than others to whom such an offer was made. It does not even imply that similar offers were made to anyone other than Ron. It is not a comparative statement in any inter-personal sense. (This may not be the case in British English, but see the slight difference in the interpretations of (a) by Kate Bunting and FF, both knowledgeable speakers of British English.)

Unlike FF, whom I also greatly respect, I do not find (c) to be unidiomatic in U.S. English although it is somewhat informal in register. Moreover, it MAY imply more than (b). As FF says, (b) does not imply that anyone other than Ron had any interest whatsoever. In American usage, (c) likely implies that others were interested, but does not assert that as a fact.

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    D is wrong in any English and the others are standard is all varieties of English.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 16:07
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    @Lambie I never opine on British or Indian English. They are different enough from U.S. English that I limit myself to what I am confident I know. Thank you for the clarification. Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 18:43
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    Most standard expressions are the same in British English etc. Indian English is a special case.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 4, 2023 at 15:47
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    It is the ones that are not the same that create difficulties. Commented Feb 4, 2023 at 20:33

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