a majority

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Sasha Ivanov

Senior Member
Russian
While most movements involve the use of multiple muscles , one muscle typically produces a majority of the force against the external resistance.
(Freeweight Training Anatomy)
Why "not "the majority? Are there several majorities?
 
  • Yankee_inCA

    Senior Member
    It means ”the most.” Multiple muscles are usually working no matter what the movement is, but in many of those cases (or “typically“) there is usually one muscle doing most of the work.
     

    Sasha Ivanov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Can I say "the majority"? Can I say "I've done the majority of the work"?
    Should it be "a majority of the work"? Every time when it means "most of the work"?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Can I say "I've done the majority of the work"?
    I see such phrases (majority of + uncountable noun) often, and I always wonder why they didn't simply write/say "most of the work". I find it mildly annoying, but I'm not sure whether anyone would regard this usage as "incorrect".
     
    Last edited:

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Both are valid. The difference is in perspective:

    1.) the majority: There can only be one majority.
    2.) a majority: one of the many possible specific percentages that could constitute a majority: 51%, 52%, 60%, etc.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I can understand someone talking about the majority of, for example, the people, (countable noun). I don't see any difference in meaning between "a majority of a plurality" and "the majority" of them.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I don't see a functional difference, but it does seem to me more natural to use the definite than the indefinite article in a context where it simply means "most of", especially where the thing involved is measurable but not countable, like force or flour, but I agree that there is usually no good reason not just to say "most of". We don't need to use "majority" for this.

    In a cake recipe it might say "Most of the sugar should be added at this stage, keeping some back for later". Changing this to "The majority of the sugar" just sounds silly.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    In "one muscle typically produces a majority of the force against the external resistance" how can "a majority" possibly be correct? Clearly the sentence is pointlessly wordy, but it must be "the majority" in this context.
     

    Sasha Ivanov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Right? That is what I thought when I read it. How English teachers grade papers? With English there's always no one definitive option. It's always tricky, subjective, editorial judgement, perspective.
    In Russian there also may be different opinions, but then an academic body confers and pronounces one norm for every debatable issue. They try to bring the language under control.
    In Russian language forums it's like in a court of law: when there's some question, there's a fixed rule for it, an academic norm that you should follow.
     

    Yokozuna

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    I have a question related to this topic "a majority."
    As I've read this thread, I understand putting "the" is better when there is only one majority.

    In the following example, the author uses "a."
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A native minority of Bosniaks live in other countries in the Balkans; especially in the Sandžak region of Serbia and Montenegro (where Bosniaks form a regional majority)
    ( Bosniaks - Wikipedia)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Is this because there are several regions where the Bosniaks are the majority?
    Or because the adjective 'regional' suggests there are other categories that have their majorities?
     
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