2

One of my friends has recently explained the following. Would you please make this more tangible or clear? especially I am wonder if the bold parts could be correct.

For instance, "the two most recent of his previous books" or "the latest two of his previous books" would be clear. -·-·-

You might wonder why I put the word "two" before "most recent", but after "the latest". The answer is simply that the phrases seem to sound better (more natural) that way, just because of the rhythm of the syllables.

Thanks

2 Answers 2

2

The bolded part of your question expresses an individual judgement, so no one but your friend can say if it's correct or not. :-)

However, to my ear both versions sound odd. I would go with "his two most recent books".

That's because

  • "recent" automatically puts the books in the past, so all "of his previous books" is redundant
  • generally "the X of Y" can be more comfortably expressed as simple possession

As a further note, the amplification of "recent" with "most" is interesting:

  • "His two recent books" implies that he published two books in quick succession not long ago & there may or may not have been other books previously
  • "His two most recent books" implies a long string of works, but the books of interest are the last two to be published, which may or may not have happened "recently". But in that case, it's simplest of all to say "His last two books".
0

I'll add a list of possible orderings, with my assessment of which are idiomatic :

  • his most recent books
  • his latest books         {Google n-grams}                                                                     

................

  • his two most recent books

  • ?his most recent two books (flatlines)        {Google 5-grams}                                                                                                                                 

  • his latest two books (much less idiomatic, though still used)

  • his two latest books         {Google 4-grams}

Suggestions such as 'the two most recent of his previous books' are becoming very clunky, and are unnecessary as shorter strings are accepted and clear. And how things look and/or sound (as you suggest) is a strong driving force when it comes to idiomaticity, and ultimately even acceptability.

....................................

Used predicatively, the situation again shows different distributions.

  • These catastrophes are the two most recent.
  • These catastrophes are the two latest. (n-gram figures unavailable, but IMO less idiomatic)

This is probably because of register; 'latest' is less formal.

And of course "Have you heard the most recent!?" is unavailable.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .