Word Choice – More Versus Most

Jane’s comment: “In an earlier tip you said, ‘Which word is the most appropriate?’ Surely you meant to say, ‘Which is the more appropriate’ since you were comparing only two words (‘first’ versus ‘firstly’). Or, like so many other examples of misuse of the English language, has this too now entered into the growing list of what is considered acceptable?”

BizWritingTip response: I am now eating a large slice of humble pie. I am not sure what I was thinking. Yes, I should have absolutely used “more” in this case as I was discussing two words.

Example (correct)

Writers often use “first” or “firstly.” Which word is the more appropriate?

If I was discussing more than two items, then “most” would be correct.


Writers often use “first,” “firstly” or “more important” at the beginning of a sentence? Which word is the most appropriate?

I will have to be more careful.

Thank you.