"Most everyone" versus "mostly everyone"?

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Saying "most everyone" is much more popular in books than "mostly everyone".

To compute the distance between two coordinates most everyone/mostly everyone uses the Spherical Law of Cosines equation.

Which expression should I use?

Cesare

Posted 2015-12-22T07:18:32.543

Reputation: 273

Answers

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You've left out the most important alternative: almost. Here's an expanded version of your Google Ngram: enter image description here In most everyone, most is a contracted version of almost, an adverb modifying the every component of everyone. (Yes, I know everyone is written as one word, but syntactically it's apprehended as a 'pronominal' version of every. Any(one) works the same way.)

Most everyone and mostly everyone are colloquial variants; I advise you to avoid them in formal registers.

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2015-12-22T07:18:32.543

Reputation: 176 469

2I suspect that a lot of those "mostly everyones" are spurious, from sentences along the lines of "Sometimes, there are fights but, mostly, everyone gets along." (That is, they mean "most of the time, everyone", rather than "almost everyone".) – David Richerby – 2015-12-22T20:31:07.707

11

Most everyone is better than mostly, because everyone is a pronoun, which the quantifier most can modify. I should note, however, that a by far better option is almost, because most is a colloquial variant.

A pronoun works like a noun. See how the quantifier mostly modifies a noun:

Most desserts are sweet.


Mostly is not a quantifier but an adverb. An adverb usually modifies a verb, an adverb, or an adjective, so it would not modify the pronoun everyone (an adverb can modify a noun phrase, but it's very hard for an adverb to modify a pronoun).

An example from Cambridge Dictionaries:

We mostly stayed on the beach. (We stayed on the beach for the majority of the time.)

See, the adverb mostly modifies the verb stayed.

In your example, it's hard to imagine what exactly would mostly modify. We'd need to move it closer to the verb uses.

To compute the distance between two coordinates everyone mostly uses the Spherical Law of Cosines equation.


P.S. Thanks to the commenters for most gallantly reminding me that most is unwelcome in most situations where informal English is a no-no.

CowperKettle

Posted 2015-12-22T07:18:32.543

Reputation: 36 949

You mean 'mostly everyone...' is incorrect? – Maulik V – 2015-12-22T07:39:19.103

@MaulikV - I guess yes, because an adverb needs a verb, an adjective, or an adverb to modify. It cannot modify a pronoun. – CowperKettle – 2015-12-22T07:40:31.437

Ah! *Almost everyone would agree on that!"*; *"Hardly anyone knows about this weird use!"* – Maulik V – 2015-12-22T07:47:21.733

@MaulikV - yes, it's okay, since everyone and anyone are pronouns (they basically work as nouns). – CowperKettle – 2015-12-22T08:08:37.427

5Should it be noted that while "Most everyone" is better than "mostly everyone", it's not actually good English? You can use "Most people", "almost all people" or "almost everyone", but you shouldn't use "Most everyone". You could try making it "most of everyone", but that doesn't sound great. – AndyT – 2015-12-22T10:08:07.100

10I'm surprised that no one so far has mentioned the distinction between American and British English. American English tends to use "most" instead of "almost". The OP's original example sentence would not appear in a British-published book; it would state "almost everyone uses...." – Nefrubyr – 2015-12-22T10:27:34.617

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@Nefrubyr - Ah ha! Perhaps, being British myself, that's why I dislike "most everyone". That said, the internet agrees with me: check out the top three hits from googling "most everyone": 1, 2 and 3. All three are against its usage, to varying degrees.

– AndyT – 2015-12-22T11:32:07.130

5I don't think it's even true to say 'American English tends to use "most" instead of "almost"'. "Most everyone" is distinctly American rather than British, but that doesn't mean it's mainstream American English. Rather, it's colloquial and/or specific to some dialects. – jez – 2015-12-22T16:14:20.573

"Most everyone", while not wrong, is informal and in many situations would be unacceptable in any English speaking country. You've said that a pronoun works like a noun and that "Most desserts are sweet" is correct, but that works because desserts is a plural form of a noun, and can therefore be modified by 'most' You can't say "most lightbulb are bright", and you can't say "most yours are nice", even though lightbulb is a noun and 'yours' is a pronoun. – topo Reinstate Monica – 2015-12-22T16:16:54.103

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[Just to let you know that the word most is also an adverb!]

To answer your question,

WordWebOnline has an answer to this:

(of actions or states) slightly short of or not quite accomplished; all but

So, when it's something of actions/states, 'most' is fine.

The example follows:

"most everyone agrees"

Maulik V

Posted 2015-12-22T07:18:32.543

Reputation: 66 188