Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Helps for Better Writing (Part 4 of 11)

4. What's the difference between most and almost?

This is one of my favorite peeves. Almost means nearly; most refers to the greater part or number.

Most every Sunday we see Evelyn. That's clearly wrong. We mean we see her on more Sundays than we don't. Better: Almost every Sunday we see Evelyn.

Perhaps this will help. Most can be followed directly by a noun or the phrase "of the," but not "of" or "the" alone.

Almost is usually followed by a number or quantifier (all, 83 percent). After almost we use the qualifiers such as "of the," "all," or simply "the."

Like the use of the word only, almost comes immediately before the word or phrase it modifies. Consider the difference: Hanna almost gave her church a million dollars. Hanna gave her church almost a million dollars.

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