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I am having a difficulty on what is the proper usage of more likely and most likely.
Is there any way to remember the difference between these two phrases easily?

On the following sentences below, which phrase to be used:

Janus is __________ to commit crime than Mike because Janus has a history of mania.

Can you give brief explanation and examples?

  • If you're comparing one person to another, you use X is more likely than Y... for contrast. You say X is most likely and cannot use it to compare one person to another using than. – Sander Aug 6 '15 at 16:40
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When I was in Elementary school, our teacher taught us more in relationship to "greater" and "greatest".

You use "greater" to compare two people:

Janus is greater than Mike.

but if you're comparing to a lot of people you use "greatest":

Janus is the greatest [person I know].

In this case "more likely" relates to greater while "most likely" relates to greatest.

Because "more" is used when comparing two people, you would say:

Janus is more likely to commit crime than Mike because Janus has a history of mania.

However, if you wanted to use "most likely" you would say:

Janus is most likely [in the group] to commit crime because Janus has a history of mania.

An easy way to remember is more ends with the "er" sound like "greater" and most ends with "st" just like "greatest". (It's caused a few spelling mistakes for me in the past, but it helped me to remember which one I wanted to use on tests).

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More... than is a phrase that fits into the pattern of comparative adjective + than, which is used to compare two things in relation to how much of that adjective they possess.

In this case the adjective takes the form of a complex phrase: "...more likely to commit crime than...". In this particular example the writer thinks Janus's likelihood to commit crime is greater than Mike's.

You cannot write most ... than. One way to think about it is that when you use most, or any superlative adjective, there is no need to indicate who or what is less, since by definition everyone is less than the person who is most. You could, however, say "Janus is the most likely to commit crime of this group of people."

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