easiest of questions vs easiest questions

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Nousher Ahmed

Senior Member
Bangla
1. Today during my viva voce, I was asked the easiest of questions.
2. Today during my viva voce, I was asked the easiest questions.

The second sentence seems natural to me. Is there any difference in meaning if I use "of" between "easiest" and "questions"?
 
  • goldenband

    Senior Member
    English - American
    "easiest of questions" = the easiest question imaginable, very possibly referring to just one question.

    "Will you marry me?" "That's the easiest of questions: of course!"

    Other examples: "He was the bravest of men", "Those were the darkest of days", etc. It's a formulation that lends itself well to high-flown or ceremonial writing, but isn't exclusive to it, though I'd say it's much more common in written than spoken English.

    "easiest questions" = the easiest questions from a defined group of questions --

    The teacher could've quizzed me on anything, but for whatever reason, she asked the easiest questions.

    -- or a common form of hyperbole that often omits the second half of the statement, where the speaker would normally specify what the superlative (-est) is being compared to:

    That was the easiest test (I've ever taken).
    I was asked the easiest questions (I've ever been asked).
    He was the nicest guy (I've ever met).


    I personally find the first sentence more natural, but it depends on the intended meaning.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    1. Today during my viva voce, I was asked the easiest of questions.
    2. Today during my viva voce, I was asked the easiest questions.

    1. The questions I was asked were extremely easy.
    2. The questions I was asked were the easiest ones (there were other, more difficult, ones, but I wasn't asked those).
     
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