Isn't there any student of the same height as Tom in the class if "Tom is the tallest in the class"?

0

If Jim is the same height as Tom, and other students in their class are not as tall as them, then can we say

Tom is the tallest student in his class.

? Or, Should I say

Tom is a tallest student in his class.

? Or, Should I say

Tom and Jim are the tallest students in his class.

?

Aki

Posted 2016-02-21T07:16:33.170

Reputation: 1 179

Answers

2

Superlative implies one.

Comparative deals with equivalents. (Jim is as tall as Tom.)

With superlatives we always use "THE", which is singular:

THE most or THE least, etc., one single entity of a group. "Entity" can be the one object or the one group of objects.

"Tom is THE tallest." There is no one taller or as tall as Tom.
If Jim is as tall as Tom, then Tom is not THE tallest. Neither is Jim THE tallest.

"Tom and Jim are the tallest ones in the class."

Toni

Posted 2016-02-21T07:16:33.170

Reputation: 46

3

You can say

Tom is one of the tallest students in his class.

or

Tom and Jim are the tallest students in their class.

Saying that

Tom is the tallest student in his class

does somewhat mean that there is no one of the same height.

But you cannot say that

Tom is a tallest student in his class.

user2505282

Posted 2016-02-21T07:16:33.170

Reputation: 131

5I disagree that saying Tom is the tallest... is correct if there is another of exactly the same height. One could indeed say one of the two tallest.... But superlatives are superlatives and I do not believe they allow for other exact equivalents. Apart from anything else it involves the definite article, which indicates singularity. – WS2 – 2016-02-21T07:40:31.317

2@WS2 'Tom and Jim are the tallest.' The superlative may be applied to a subset of order greater than one. – Edwin Ashworth – 2016-02-21T16:39:16.810

@EdwinAshworth I agree. – WS2 – 2016-02-21T20:29:08.633

Wish I could vote twice – lauir – 2016-02-22T08:02:02.013

1Or "Jim's class". But to be impartial with respect to both Tom and Jim, let's say "their" :-) – None – 2016-02-22T08:05:25.497