“better” vs. “best”

26 Jul


I'm beginning to think that this month is my time for trashing sports commentators. Perhaps deservedly so. And now that we're entering the football season (collegiate and professional) with wall-to-wall television coverage, it's peak time for misuse of these words:


"Better" is the correct comparative word to describe the difference between TWO individuals or events…Tom is the better player (compared with David, for example).


"Best" is the correct comparative word to describe an individual or event among SEVERAL or MANY…Tom is the best player (on the team or in the entire league).


It is incorrect to say that Tom is one of the "better" players…; he is one of the "best" players….


This principle also applies to comparative words like "bigger" vs. "biggest", "smaller" vs. "smallest", "older" vs. "oldest", "dumber" vs. "dumbest".


The mistake is extremely common among broadcast sports commentators. In fact, they never get it right!  They are among the DUMBEST. Are we surprised?


Getting this right shouldn't be restricted to only the best and the brightest.


About Grammar Nazi

Marketing specialist focusing on concept development for new products and services. University degree in editorial journalism. Major corporate and brand experience with one of the world's largest and best advertising agencies.
1 Comment

Posted by on July 26, 2011 in Uncategorized


One Response to “better” vs. “best”

  1. enric

    April 6, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I think you are almost 100% correct but BETTER is comparative and BEST is superlative. That is the correct way to define these adjectives. 
    Also, the correct form for BETTER is: " …. better than….". For example: Tom is better than Peter. 
    You cannot say: "Tom is the better player". 
    You could say:"Tom is a better player", "Tom is better player than the rest of the team" 
    I hope this helps the worst sport commentators out there that do not even know how to read.
    Cheer, Enric


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