Superlatives and the Word THE

by Shun
(Tokyo, Japan)

Are both these sentences correct?

(a) I get up earliest in my family.
(b)I get up the earliest in my family.

As far as I have learned, the article "the" can be omitted when an adverb's form is in superlatives.

On the exam at school, a teacher did not accept (a). I asked her why, but she simply answered that it is not the right way to express this sentence in superlative forms.

Is this opinion really correct?

I am confused…

Comments for Superlatives and the Word THE

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Mar 26, 2013
by: Chelsey

After doing some research, I believe both of your sentences can be considered grammatically correct. However, this is only MY OPINION.

You should definitely consider speaking with your teacher about this question and ask her to explain her reasoning.

As a Native English speaker, I do not see anything wrong with either of these sentences. I would probably use the first sentence because it is shorter and does not sound as "wordy" as the second sentence.

In addition, "the" is a definite article and it is used to identify a specific noun.

For example
• I talked to the girl.

I did not talk to just ANY girl. I talked to a specific girl.

The definite article is used to modify a noun, not an adverb.

So, using this logic, there is no grammatical reason that the definite article needs to be used in your sentence.

There may be a specific grammar rule that applies to superlative adverbs and the definite article, but I am not aware of it.

Remember, this is only my opinion! I would be interested in hearing other opinions from other readers or from your teacher.

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