Must 'maximum' be followed by 'of'?


To reduce words I want to write 'a maximum six times' rather than 'a maximum of six times'. Is that ok?

Here's the context: 'I saw people a maximum six times (approximately weekly)'


Posted 2015-09-11T13:07:56.287

Reputation: 11

If you mean something like "This Disneyland discount coupon may be used a maximum (of) six times" then yes, "of" is optional. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2015-09-11T13:20:01.837

2I'm not sure I agree. I would probably require the "of", in writing at least. I don't really have anything to back it up, though, so maybe someone more informed can write an answer here. – Aaron Brown – 2015-09-11T14:15:48.633

4Use at most six times. – tchrist – 2015-09-11T14:39:08.123

Even with "of", your sentence doesn't make sense to me.. – technophyle – 2015-09-11T16:25:26.540

@tchrist: succinct. Exactly what I was thinking. – Brian Hitchcock – 2015-09-12T09:49:06.560



In this sentence, yes it does.

"Maximum" is a contextual concept: the most things available, for a specific thing. You can't describe a "maximum" without some sort of context describing what quantity it represents. The word "of" in this context qualifies maximum by describing what exactly is the upper bound of the quantity.

"A maximum six times" isn't a phrase that makes any sense. We have an article addressing a noun (a maximum), an adjective (six), and then another noun (times). There's nothing linking these words together. You've clearly just introduced this new "maximum" into the context ("a maximum," the use of "a" instead of "the" or even just replacing them both with a pronoun indicates that it hasn't been mentioned yet) so it has to be described with kind of maximum it is. You can't do that without using the word "of." And no, "a six times maximum" won't work either.

You could correctly refer to it as simply "a maximum" without "six times," but that tells the other person that there's an upper limit, not what it is. That would be rather confusing.

Crazy Eyes

Posted 2015-09-11T13:07:56.287

Reputation: 3 511

The phrase A maximum six times is valid - it uses maximum as an modifier, which indicates that something happened/was done exactly six times and six times is the "maximum" (it could not have happened more than that). A maximum of six times means that something happened/was done up to six times, but possibly less. – LawrenceC – 2015-11-11T13:32:10.927


I may be wrong, but, in this case, it looks like "of" is a preposition of a prepositional phrase. In this case the prepositional phrase is an adjective modifyer.

If you didn't use of in your sentence, it would have a different function. Maximum would, instead of being a noun, be an adjective. The reason, I think, that of is used is because of can be used as a link between words and make then genitive much in the same way that the, "'s" at the end of a noun indicates possession.

maximum of ten dogs is another way of saying, ten dogs' maximum. One wouldn't say this because it wouldn't make very much sense and would have different connotations when positioned like that. So, I think, but I'm not sure this is correct, that, "of," In this sentence, is a way of saying that the subject, "I" is in "possession" of, "the maximum".

I'm not sure that this is a great, or even correct, explanation, but I hope I helped. A website that may be useful in the future is an online sentence diagrammer that will tell you how each word in a sentence functions and you can compare it to other ways a word may work if the sentence were worded differently. Here is the link:

Morella Almånd

Posted 2015-09-11T13:07:56.287

Reputation: 407

The first two paragraphs of this answer seem correct to me. As you point out, the third paragraph does not "make very much sense". – Jasper – 2015-11-10T19:59:27.137


I saw people a maximum six times (approximately weekly)

Maximum here can work as an adverb modifying six - meaning six is the maximum number possible. Since six modifies times - telling how many times - I saw people a maximum six times means you saw people six times exactly AND six times is the maximum.

And, since you would have to have known the specific maximum involved well before talking about it - i.e. it was a specific thing known in context or previous conversation, you would use the instead of a.

Furthermore, if there is an upper limit of people you could see for a given interval, you would also know that interval precisely - so "approximately" sounds like you don't know what you are talking about. You could say:

I saw people the maximum six times each week.

However, if you want to say you have seen anywhere from zero to six people, six being the upper limit, you need of.

I saw a maximum of six people each week.

So you really need that of if the number of people you saw was 0 to 6.


Posted 2015-09-11T13:07:56.287

Reputation: 31 841