what is being modified by "mostly" in the phrase "a very large family of mostly tropical trees"?
"Mostly" is an ADVERB. It modifies the ADJECTIVE "tropical". "tropical" modifies the NOUN "trees".
xizzhu,Originally Posted by xizzhu
To develop the examples you give:
Most tropical trees are thick-stemmed = the majority of tropical trees have thick stems.
The most tropical trees are found nearest the equator = the trees which are found in the very hottest areas … (this isn't good English, I just use it to show the usage of the most - my botany's iffy too )
You wrote: ""a large family of most tropical trees" or "a large family of the most tropical trees" is correct."
I understand your feeling, but that is wrong.
It is a basic rule:
Adjectives modify NOUNS
Adverbs modify VERBS, ADJECTIVES and other ADVERBS.
Tropical is an ADJECTIVE as we can see from the ending "-al". Thus, to moidfy the ADJECTIVE "tropical" we must have an ADVERB.
Here is another way to write:
"a large family of 90% tropical trees".
Notice that the family is 100% trees. The variation is in the type! Most (90%) are tropical, thus that is why we know that "mostly" must modify "tropical".
Yes, but only when used in the superlative, meaning "the greatest. To the highest degree." It is used with long adjectives:
the most immense
the most expensive
There is also an older use, that is uncommon now, where most is used like "very" meaning "to a very great amount"
The talk was most interesting.
He is most entertaining.
But this is 1) uncommon 2) makes no sense with "tropical" (how is a tree very tropical?)
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