5

Are all of the following sentences correct? Is there any difference in their meaning?

  • Most birds can fly.
  • The most of birds can fly.
  • Most of birds can fly.
  • 1
    The first one is correct. The others are incorrect. – Matt Apr 29 '13 at 17:39
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Use most to refer to a quantity of an unspecific group. We use most when we are speaking in general and do not have a specific group of people or things in mind:

  • Most students ask questions.

  • All students want A's.

  • Many students want less homework.

  • A few students had to stay for a review session. (some)

  • Few students had to stay for a review session. (not many)

Use most of the X to refer to a quantity of a specific group. Note the expression includes a phrase defining the number to a specific group:

  • Most of the students in my English class ask questions. (most - specific to those who are in my English class)

  • All of the students in my class want A's. (all - specific to those who are in my class)

  • Many of the students in my school want less homework. (many - specific to those who are in my school)

  • A few of the students who have low grades had to stay for a review session. (a few - specific to those who have low grades)

  • Few of the students who have low grades had to stay for a review session. (few - specific to those who have low grades)

So it means only your first example is correct. But it is correct if for example you write:

Most of the birds which are living in highlands can fly.

About The most I think it refers to the rules of the and there is nothing more.

  • 1
    The most is not used for 'the majority' but in comparisons: "This is the most wonderful day of my life." "Children buy little beer, women buy more, but men buy the most." – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 29 '13 at 20:11
  • Off topic but related, which preposition(s) should it be if I want to say: '__ the students in my class, most of them ask questions'. Is it in, among, across or some other word? – NS.X. Apr 29 '13 at 20:22
  • @NS.X. 'Of' is OK, 'among' acceptable but pompous. Best is "Most students in my class ask questions." – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 29 '13 at 20:49
  • @StoneyB Why 'among' is pompous? – NS.X. Apr 30 '13 at 0:38
  • @NS.X. Because among emphasizes the class of which the students are members - it pointlessly makes their membership more important than what you are principally concerned with, their questions. It is as if you were to say "My class includes students, most of whom ask questions". – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 30 '13 at 0:53

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