1. He completed the test most quickly in our class.
2. He completed the test the most quickly in our class.
3. He completed the test the quickest in our class.
Which are the correct choices?
Hi, Ruifeng: Sorry for the delay. The awkwardness of your sentences was a bit of a turn-off at first, and then your question slid down the page. Now that I've returned to your question, I see the source of the awkwardness. The problem is that your sentences all correctly express where or in what circumstances he (habitually) completed the test (the) quickest / most quickly, whereas you are SURELY trying to say something else, something that is expressed by sentences such as the following:
4. He completed the test more quickly than (did) anyone else in our class.
5. He completed the test quicker than anyone else in our class.
6. He completed the test the quickest of anyone in our class.
Hi, Ruifeng: I'm going to make the benevolent assumption that it was an accident that you didn't acknowledge my first reply in your follow-up post. However, if you ignore me again, I won't make that assumption. I'll simply ignore you in return.
7. Whenever we had a test, he completed it THE most quickly.
8. Whenever we had a test, he completed it most quickly.
In 7 and 8, I want to use "quickly" to modify "completed". Are they correct and is "the" necessary?
Both sentences are grammatically correct, and in both sentences "quickly" modifies "completed." You should use (7) (i.e., you should use "the") if you want the implied meaning to be "the most quickly (of anyone in the class)." You should use (8) if you want the sentence to be equivalent in meaning to "Whenever we had a test, he completed it very quickly."
9. Whenever we had a test , he completed it quickest.
10. Whenever we had a test, he completed it the quickest.
11. Whenever we had a test, he completed it the quickest of anyone in our class.
In these three sentences, I want to say that of all the students, he was the quickest to finish the test. Are they all correct? And do they all express this idea? Is "the" necessary in 9?
For the meaning you want, you need to use "the," whether or not you use the "of"-phrase or leave the idea expressed by the "of"-phrase implied. In other words, both (10) or (11) are correct with the meaning you want. Sentence (9) is not correct with that meaning, even if people succeed in understanding what you are trying to say, as they doubtless would. Omitting this "the" is not the end of the world!
Sentence (9) could, however, be correctly used in a context such as the one I discussed in my first reply (which you ignored), provided "it" does not refer to the test. Let's suppose "he" is your brother, he is not in your class, and "it" refers to his homework. In that case, (9) would mean that, when you (plural) had a test, your brother completed his homework quicker than in any other circumstance (perhaps because you were not around to distract him!). His speed in this circumstance would be being compared with his own speed in other circumstances, not with that of anyone else.
Sorry, David. I didn't ignore your first reply though it seemed so.
I was just having a hard time understanding your reply. I was not sure which was exactly the right meaning for which. So I decided to break up my original questions and ask again in different new questions. Sorry for the trouble and the unhappy feeling the I caused you. Next time I will make my questions clearer and explain things first to avoid any misunderstandings.
Thanks for your kind apology, Ruifeng. Did you understand my second reply? Have I answered your question to your satisfaction? Would you like me to expand upon any points or marshal quotations from revered references for your perusal?
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