greatest vs major

Galik

New Member
Ukrainian
Hello,
Help me, please, to get why we need to choose the word greatest not major in the following sentence?

Nelson's Britain's greatest/major naval hero....
Also, why there isn't the definite article before the superlative form of the adjective?
 
  • Hi Galik, greatest has the specific meaning of top of his class. Major in this case would mean very important or one of the greatest and it would require an a (X is a major naval hero in British history)
    The way the sentence is written may have got you confused. I understand it as:

    Nelson is Britain's greatest naval hero.

    As you can see a "the" before greatest would be odd here.

    Saying that Nelson is a major naval hero in the history of Britain, would be a huge understatement :)
     

    Galik

    New Member
    Ukrainian
    Thanks, I 've got it ) You were right about Nelson is not Nelson's, but why can't I contract here the word Is?
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    It would not be ungrammatical to say Nelson's, but it is unusual to have two words together like this, especially where they are different constructions (e.g. Nelson's = Nelson is; Britain's = of Britain).

    I think the main reason is one of sound. You might say My car's exhaust's broken, where the 's is similar in both cases. But you would not write it.
     
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