I'm wondering if the following sentence is grammatically correct.

I've never seen a dumbest girl like this

A grammar book says the superlative should have the article "the". However, I found the above sentence on the internet which seems to be written by a native English speaker.

Other examples:

Dawnman Planet by Mack Reynolds https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=bX85CeGtwqgC&pg=PT8&dq=%22a+slightest%22&hl=ja&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjP97Lz0sPLAhXFE5QKHRFtBOg4KBDoAQgaMAA#v=onepage&q=%22a%20slightest%22&f=false

The galaxy is immense, and thus far, we have but touched a slightest segment of it.

Mack Reynolds was an American science fiction writer. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mack_Reynolds

A Mother's Secret by Scarlet Wilson https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=GF51AgAAQBAJ&pg=PT38&dq=%22a+slightest%22&hl=ja&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjTuvOFjMTLAhVjKKYKHRJJCno4HhDoAQgiMAE#v=onepage&q=%22a%20slightest%22&f=false

"So what do you think?" He spun around in his chair until he faced her, leaning forward, his elbows on his knees, giving her a slightest glimpse of his dark curled hair at the base of his throat.

About the author http://www.scarlet-wilson.com/1_3_Bio.html

Ulverton by Adam Thorpe


This room grows so tedious and fusty. Because I have a slightest of fevers I am to be confined a further week upon the end of the month.

About the author https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Thorpe

Edit (March 20, 2016) I have posted a similar question here: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/314773/is-a-slightest-glimpse-gramatically-incorrect

  • 5
    If you did see that from a native speaker, he was either being very careless at the time, or he's not very literate. It's syntactic garbage, regardless of whether it uses the definite or the indefinite article. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Mar 15 '16 at 17:20
  • 5
    Yeah, my guess would be they misspelled "I've never seen a dumbass girl like this". – snailcar Mar 15 '16 at 17:25
  • 1
    The second example is not much better. That is an extremely bizarrely worded sentence. I would guess it's for poetic effect in this case; it's definitely not fit for conversational use. – Era Mar 15 '16 at 21:54
  • 4
    @Makoto: Are you trying to prove to me that "competent" writers have used a form I'm assuring you is not idiomatically acceptable? I'm not going to waste time dealing with each of the additional examples you've added since my first comment, but the first one (Mack Reynolds) is a Google Books OCR ERROR. Here's the 1965 original where it's we have but touched the slightest segment. That's just normal English, but a there would be "unusual", to say the least. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Mar 16 '16 at 13:08
  • 1
    Do not mistake something appearing in print with it being correct. There are plenty of "a slightest" appearing in books, but that doesn't mean it is good writing. It just means it is a common mistake. When I look over the books where it appears, I see a lot of bad editing, with the exception of [the Court] expressly rejected a "slightest presence" standard of constitutional nexus' in Global Perspectives on E-Commerce Taxation Law, by Dr Subhajit Basu. – ColleenV parted ways Mar 16 '16 at 13:34

Absolutely not. dumbest is a superlative. As you say, a superlative requires the not a in front of it. Plus, you can't use a superlative with like. There is no point in comparing a superlative with anything: it is the whatever-est.

For the sake of gender equality, I have replaced girl with guy in my examples :-)

It may well be mis-heard report of this sentence:

I have never seen a dumb-assed guy like this.

The correct way of saying it is:

I have never seen a guy as dumb as this.

|improve this answer|||||
  • Please see the edit. I have added another example. – Makoto Kato Mar 15 '16 at 21:48
  • 4
    In my opinion, all of the additional examples you have quoted are grammatically incorrect. – JavaLatte Mar 16 '16 at 14:40
  • Could you give us some supporting evidences of your claim? – Makoto Kato Mar 17 '16 at 9:02
  • It says: "You can even put a in front of a superlative when you intend the superlative to designate only a very high degree of something rather than the one item with the highest degree: The hermitage is a most curious piece of architecture." – Makoto Kato Mar 18 '16 at 10:30

No, it's not correct. However,

I've never seen the dumbest girl like this

is probably not what the author meant either.

What was probably meant was

I've never seen a girl this dumb.

|improve this answer|||||
  • Please see the edit. I have added another example. – Makoto Kato Mar 15 '16 at 21:47

The sentence you ask about appears on a Ladduz Entertainment website, which is from India, where they speak Indian English and, like elsewhere, sometimes use very poor English. A blurb about Ladduz.in is filled with deviations from standard English, including the following:

ladduz.in is an India's top social media and articles provider...

Here, an India's is non-standard. Also, from the same site:

we are giving a available information about movies...

A available? (should be an available). A(n) information? Not in standard English: 'information' is a mass noun.

The sentence you ask about is part of the headline of a video in which at least two languages are used; thus, there is the possibility that the headline mixes two languages.

What is clear is that a with a superlative is rare. You found few instances, and the one by M Reynolds was shown to be spurious. That some other, rare instances exist do not show that it is standard.

However, it is possible to make the case that a construction along the lines of

"I've never seen a dumbest girl like this in Bangladore..."

(which is what the headline actually says) is correct. Say that there exits in Dehli a girl who is "the dumbest girl in Dehli". And there is in Calcutta "the dumbest girl in Calcutta." Well, one could say

We don't have a dumbest girl in Bangladore (because the girls are all smart here).

Just like one could say:

We don't have a rainiest day in the desert (because it never rains here).

Perhaps something like that was meant by the writer of the sentence you ask about. Or perhaps it's a mash of languages. Perhaps it's correct in Indian English. Perhaps it's a flat error with no justification. Also, since the video appears to say "dumb ass girl," perhaps the headline writer just got the word wrong.

As for the genuine (not spurious) uses of the indefinite article with a superlative, they are errors from the point of view of standard English. People are free to use English in any way they please, but that doesn't make it standard. On the issue of Standard English, you can google "Who decides what is standard English" and get plenty of results including the ELL question and answers to Who decides whether something is standard English or not?

|improve this answer|||||
  • Thanks. How do you think about the other examples? – Makoto Kato Mar 17 '16 at 5:43
  • They are errors from the point of view of standard English. – Alan Carmack Mar 17 '16 at 5:49
  • 1
    Yes, all the native English speakers here who have said they are errors. Standard English is what native speakers say it is. – Alan Carmack Mar 17 '16 at 6:28
  • 1
    @Makoto Kato: I never suggested otherwise. I was addressing your But those people are also native English speakers above, which I took to be a reference to Alan's point that your first cited example (by far the most "non-idiomatic") came from an IE publication which in addition to featuring usages acceptable in Indian English also contains many errors that wouldn't be acceptable to any true native Anglophone, Indian or otherwise. You seem to be preoccupied with defending an obviously (to native speakers) non-standard usage, rather than learning what is and isn't normal English. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Mar 18 '16 at 13:17
  • 1
    @Makoto Kato: (I've only ever cut&pasted your username "as is", so I don't follow that point). How many times do people have to assure you that your first example is totally ungrammatical, and your "supporting" examples are at best "non-standard"? Are you trying to learn, or to win an argument? – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Mar 18 '16 at 13:35

I've never seen a dumbest girl like this.

The logical problem here is that you are saying you've never seen this girl before, but you somehow already know she is the dumbest girl you've seen. How could you know if you never seen her before?

I've never seen a girl this dumb.

This is fine, you are saying this is the first time you've seen a girl at this level of dumbness.

This is the dumbest girl I've ever seen.

This is probably what you want to say. The is used before nouns to show that the speaker is referring to an instance that he/she has talked about or observed before. Since you observed this girl and her dumbness, and are talking about the same girl, you need the.

A would imply you haven't seen the girl before, therefore you can't say a dumbest because you could not know she is the dumbest unless you've observed that.

|improve this answer|||||
  • Thanks. What do you think about the other examples? – Makoto Kato Mar 17 '16 at 5:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.