BY FAR + superlative adjective

There are more than 10 ways ‘far‘ is used in English grammar.  We’ve also explained the superlative of ‘far elsewhere.  In this post, we are looking at how the phrase ‘by far‘ means ‘by a great amount‘.  When we use it together with a superlative phrase, for example, ‘the most popular,‘ the whole meaning is:  ‘… is the most popular by a great amount.’

Let’s explain this with an easy example.  Imagine you have 10 friends with mobile phones.  7 friends have an iPhone, 2 friends have a Samsung, and 1 friend has a Nokia.  We can say the iPhone is the most popular.  But we can be more detailed to say that 70% is much more than 20% or 10%.  Therefore we can say: “iPhones are the most popular by far.” or “iPhones are by far the most popular.


In the English Grammar Profile, at B2, point 62 in ADJECTIVES is defined as:

premodifer ‘by far’ to make a superlative adjective stronger


*This means that the phrase ‘by far’ changes the strength of the superlative adjective that comes after it.


 

Here are 50 examples we found by searching in iWeb corpus for “by far the * *

1 BY FAR THE MOST POPULAR 3984

It’s by far the most popular choice.

On the right are the most common collocations:

1 CHOICE (NN1 ) 168
2 TYPE (NN1 ) 111
3 AMONG (II ) 99

It is by far the most popular choice.
4 OPTION (NN1 ) 96
5 METHOD (NN1 ) 56

2 BY FAR THE MOST COMMON 3761

1 TYPE (NN1 ) 333

It is by far the most common type.
2 CAUSE (NN1 ) 252
3 FORM (NN1 ) 158
4 REASON (NN1 ) 90
5 METHOD (NN1 ) 85

3 BY FAR THE MOST IMPORTANT 2850

1 THING (NN1 ) 222

By far the most important thing was documentation.
2 PART (NN1 ) 165
3 FACTOR (NN1 ) 156
4 ASPECT (NN1 ) 96
5 STEP (NN1 ) 58

4 BY FAR THE BEST. 1636
5 BY FAR THE BEST WAY 1287
6 BY FAR THE EASIEST WAY 815
7 BY FAR THE BEST I 805
8 BY FAR THE MOST EFFECTIVE 705
9 BY FAR THE BEST AND 601
10 BY FAR THE MOST EXPENSIVE 582
11 BY FAR THE BEST OF 556
12 BY FAR THE MOST DIFFICULT 515
13 BY FAR THE MOST INTERESTING 501
14 BY FAR THE MOST COMFORTABLE 493
15 BY FAR THE MOST POWERFUL 485
16 BY FAR THE BEST ONE 448
17 BY FAR THE MOST SUCCESSFUL 448
18 BY FAR THE BEST, 438
19 BY FAR THE BEST OPTION 435
20 BY FAR THE BEST THING 433
21 BY FAR THE BEST IN 424
22 BY FAR THE BEST! 417
23 BY FAR THE EASIEST TO 413
24 BY FAR THE BEST VALUE 392
25 BY FAR THE MOST COMMONLY 382
26 BY FAR THE EASIEST AND 381
27 BY FAR THE BEST PLACE 324
28 BY FAR THE MOST SIGNIFICANT 311
29 BY FAR THE MOST WIDELY 301

30 BY FAR THE MAJORITY OF 298 (not superlative)

31 BY FAR THE MOST LIKELY 290
32 BY FAR THE LARGEST AND 289
33 BY FAR THE MOST IMPRESSIVE 287
34 BY FAR THE BEST PART 285
35 BY FAR THE MOST FAMOUS 284
36 BY FAR THE BEST CHOICE 278
37 BY FAR THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE 271
38 BY FAR THE MOST USEFUL 265
39 BY FAR THE MOST EFFICIENT 264
40 BY FAR THE MOST FUN 261
41 BY FAR THE WORLD ‘S 243
42 BY FAR THE WORST. 240
43 BY FAR THE LARGEST OF 238
44 BY FAR THE BEST EXPERIENCE 237
45 BY FAR THE MOST BEAUTIFUL 234
46 BY FAR THE BEST FOR 224
47 BY FAR THE MOST CHALLENGING 198
48 BY FAR THE MOST DANGEROUS 194
49 BY FAR THE MOST VALUABLE 191
50 BY FAR THE MOST EXCITING 186


This B2 vocabulary is often found in the ‘by far + superlative’ construction:

effective, impressive, significant, widely


Watch and listen to one last expert example:  He’s by far the happiest man.

Try our QUIZ to keep learning about the most common real ‘by far superlative‘ examples:

Results

#1. This is an ancient Chinese philosophy classic that was written more than 2,600 years ago. And it was... ? Finish the sentence.

#2. And most importantly, I stopped working on fast-moving consumer-goods marketing projects and now work with organizations that promote sustainability. But...

#3. Now, cannabis is made up of hundreds of different chemicals, but two of those chemicals are...

finish

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