“love most” versus “love the most”

I’d like to know if there is something I should know about when making a decision to use/not to use the article with most when it modifies the verb. For example,

My main passion are the horses that’s what I love the most about
the sport.

Each of us has to find what we love most

about our profession.

It’s having your family and your friends alive, and that’s what
matters the most.

Put yourself in your partner’s shoes to gain perspective on what
matters most


Is this again one of those cases of personal preference, or is there a better explanation?

I read on another forum that when love most is followed by about, the is often ommitted and, from my research, it really seems to be the case. So does it depend on what words go next?

I thought it was the case with formality/informality as the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary states, but it doesn’t sound very convincing to me. Also, both the Corpus of Contemporary American English and google books give more results for “love most/matter most” versus “love the most/matter the most”.


Most has two closely-related meanings.

1 the largest in number or amount
2 more than half / almost all of somebody/something

As that OALD link says, the most is often used for the first meaning – but informally, the is often omitted. It’s never used with the second meaning.

Suppose The Queen of Hearts were to ask “Who ate my tarts?”

A1: “The knave ate the most”
A2: “The knave ate most”

If several courtiers ate one tart each, but the knave ate two, then either answer could validly be given, since he ate more than anyone else (but note that A1 is a “very slightly formal” usage).

But if the knave actually ate more than half (but not all) of the tarts, only A2 is correct. Though the Queen might not understand that intended distinction, since the could be omitted anyway.

It’s worth making the point that the is never included when most simply means very

“I am most grateful for your help”

…but interestingly, whereas in…

“There were 50 people there, at [the] most

the is normally omitted, it’s almost always included if we add very as an intensifier…

“There were 50 people there, at the very most

Source : Link , Question Author : stillenat , Answer Author : FumbleFingers

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