Word tip: better/best and more/most

Here is a brief reminder on how to use better/best and more/most properly.

Better and more apply when you’re comparing or referring to only two items:

“Product A handled the problem better.” (not ‘handled the problem best’)

“Product A offers more power for the dollar.” (not ‘the most power’)

If your sample includes three or more items, you can use best and most where applicable. Make sure the terms truly apply. You should be able to back up your claim with data.

This mutual fund has been offering the best return in its class.

You can expect the most return on your investment with this mutual fund.

(Recall how you use unique. Something is either unique or it is not. It can’t be really unique. Similarly, there is only one best of any category and most applies only to one facet orĀ item.)

Another way people sometimes use better is to indicate how they feel about something. “I like this brand of cheese cake better.” Because you’re quantifying something–your state of feeling–more applies here.

“I like this brand of cheese cake more.”

These may seem like trivial issues, but they can make a difference in your written and spoken material, as well as everyday conversations.

For related reading, see “When to use ‘less’ and ‘fewer”‘ and “How to use ‘criteria’ and ‘criterion.'”

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Tom Fuszard, content writer, blog writing, pr writing, web copy



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