The zone nearest France is called the South of England

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member

Is "nearest" in blue an adjective or adverb? I think "nearest to France" makes sense.

The zone nearest France is called the South of England, the middle zone is called the Midlands and the one nearest to Scotland is known as the North.
(Quoted from an English textbook for senior high school students in China)

Thanks very much!
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    There's a relevant previous thread here, flowersophy: the girls <nearest him>.

    It includes this very helpful post by entangledbank:
    'Near' is unusual in several ways: first, it has two forms of the superlative, 'nearest' and 'next'. Second, it can optionally take 'to', but this depends on both the speaker and which exact form is used: 'near to him' sounds okay for some speakers, less okay for others, whereas 'nearest/next to him' is much more common than 'nearest/next him'. Third, it's unclear whether it's an adjective or a preposition. It's inflected like an adjective ('nearer, nearest') and can be modified by adverbs ('very near'), but it can take a direct complement ('near him', but not :cross:'proud him', 'ashamed him', 'similar him'). Other such words are 'like' and 'worth': they take direct complements, suggesting they're prepositions, but in other ways seem like adjectives.

    'Nearest him' sounds perfectly normal to me, though literary. I could write it myself, though I think I'd only say 'nearest to me'


    Senior Member
    US English
    The proof of the accuracy of eb's observation quoted by Loob is the use of "nearest France" and "nearest to Scotland" in the same sentence.
    < Previous | Next >