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Almost vs. Most vs. Mostly

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Common mistakes:

  1. (NG) Almost people like pizza.
    1. (OK) Almost all people like pizza
    2. (OK) Most people like pizza.
  2. (NG) I almost drink tea, but sometimes I drink coffee.
    1. (OK) I mostly drink tea, but sometimes I drink coffee.

Grammar words and phrases in context

Sometimes the trains in this city are unreliable. I was almost late today because the trains were delayed. Most days the trains are on time and delays mostly happen in the winter. Almost ninety percent of my coworkers live near the office, so they don’t have to worry about delayed trains like I do. Almost everyone on the train this morning was in a panic when the train just stopped running too. The announcement said that almost all of the train lines were experiencing delays. Yes, it’s a typical day in New York!

Almost

Almost means not quite or very close or very near 100% or nearly. There are four rules for using almost:

First, we use almost plus a past verb. I almost dropped my book means I was close to dropping my book, but I didn’t drop it.

  1. I almost missed my train today. The train leaves at 7:18, and I got to the station at 7:15am.
  2. When I slipped in the café, I almost spilled my coffee. Luckily I didn’t.
  3. I had to work late last night, so I almost missed Jack’s party. Luckily the party was still going on when I arrived.

Next, we use almost plus a number. Usually this number is related to time, distance, or other measurement. Almost 10 means about 9:50 or 9:55.

  1. It’s almost midnight. We should go home.
  2. I jogged almost 10 miles this morning.
  3. Jane’s baby is almost two years old.

We use almost plus words like everywhere, everyone, everything. Almost everyone means not everyone, but close to everyone.

  1. Almost everyone at the party drank wine.
  2. In Tokyo, convenience stores are almost everywhere!
  3. Almost everything was damaged in the earthquake, except my antique clock.

Lastly, we use almost plus all plus noun to talk about nearly 100% of some thing.

  1. Almost all Americans like pizza.
  2. Almost all of my friends speak two languages.
  3. I have tried almost all of the dishes in this restaurant. They are so delicious!

Most

Most has the same meaning as almost all:

  1. Most Americans like pizza. → Almost all Americans like pizza.
  2. Most of my friends can speak two languages. → Almost all of my friends can speak two languages.

We use most plus a plural noun to talk about general things.

  1. Most Americans like pizza.
  2. Most people like to go to the movies.
  3. Most airlines charge for bags and food these days.

We use most plus of plus a determiner plus a plural noun to talk about specific things.

  1. Most of my friends like pizza.
  2. Most of the people in my office speak two languages.
  3. Most of the cars in NYC are dirty.

 Mostly

You can use mostly to talk about actions you do or actions that happen most of the time:

  1. I like tea, but I mostly drink coffee.
  2. We mostly eat in, but we go to a restaurant on special occasions.
  3. In my free time, I mostly watch movies.
  4. It mostly snows in January and February here.
  5. Stores mostly sell a lot of products before Christmas.

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