In a news article or history textbook, you may have read about an event that the writer described as the “most recent” event. The “most recent” event might have happened yesterday or many years ago. Is it correct to say “most recent” in such different situations?
It is correct to say “most recent” to describe a past event nearer to the present than other similar events because it is a superlative adjective. For example, if you take a vacation every year, you might say that your “most recent” vacation happened last summer if you have not gone on vacation since then.
Read on to learn when and how to use “most recent” to describe certain past events.
What Does “Most Recent” Mean?
“Most recent” is a superlative adjective that means the noun or event it describes is the last to have happened in a series of events the speaker describes.
“Recent” is an adjective that means something happened or existed in the near past (source). If it is currently December, you can say, “Thanksgiving was a recent holiday” because it happened only a few weeks ago.
“Most” is an adverb we pair with adjectives to form superlative adjectives (source). We’ll examine superlatives and comparatives further down the page. For now, know that a superlative adjective is an adjective that describes the best, greatest, or most complete example of its group.
When we put the words together, we use them to mean the closest past event among the ones we are comparing. So in early December, you can also say, “Thanksgiving was the most recent holiday” because there have not been any other holidays since Thanksgiving.
Also, for an event to be the most recent of a series, it doesn’t necessarily need to be recent; it just needs to be more recent than every other event you describe.
For example, Hawaii became a state in 1959, so it has been a state for a long time. But since no other states have joined the union since Hawaii, it is correct to say, “Hawaii is the most recent state to join the union.”
How Do You Use “Most Recent”?
You may use “most recent” as a superlative adjective to refer to the latest instance of a repeatable occurrence or the latest instance of a series of related events.
Because “most recent” is an adjective, it needs a noun to describe, and because it is superlative, it needs context for the comparison. Because you are comparing things that happened, you will always use “most recent” to describe an event.
If you say, “Thanksgiving is the most recent holiday,” you are using “most recent” to modify “holiday.” The whole phrase “most recent holiday” uses the linking verb “is” to refer back to the subject “Thanksgiving.”
You describe the latest in a series of related events in this example. The listener understands that you are comparing Thanksgiving to Halloween, Easter, Christmas, and other holidays and concludes that Thanksgiving was the latest to happen. This type of comparison will always use a linking verb.
You can also use “most recent” to describe the latest of a set of repeatable events. If your favorite sports team is having a bad year but just ended a long losing streak, you could say, “My team won their most recent game, but they still have a losing record.“
This also works for a series of events that have not been repeated for a long time. You can say, “The most recent eruption of Mount Vesuvius happened in 79 A.D.” This eruption happened long ago, but since Mount Vesuvius hasn’t erupted since then, it is correct to call it the most recent eruption.
When Can You Use “Most Recent”?
You can use “most recent” any time it is helpful to show the order of events or to emphasize that an event has not repeated since the instance that you are describing.
Scientists, reporters, historians, and sports writers all need to describe the order of certain events. So you will encounter “most recent” in many different types of writing.
Suppose you are a reporter relying on statistics to make a point in your article, but the agency that publishes the statistics hasn’t published this year’s data yet. You could write, “according to statistics from 2021, the most recent data available …” to show that you are using the most relevant and timely information available.
Scientists also use “most recent” when writing about research to show that newer research has not made the data they are using obsolete.
Sportswriters might analyze the performance of teams and players by highlighting the near-past instead of an entire season. If a prominent player is experiencing a slump, the writer might say that “Joe Batter has hit 20 home runs this season; the most recent was three weeks ago,” to show that his performance has gotten worse.
Using “Most Recent” in a Full Sentence
To use “most recent” in a full sentence, place it before a noun and connect the phrase to a broader set of events using a linking verb, or use it to describe the latest in a series of repeatable events.
“Most recent” is an adjective, so it will always describe a noun. But where you place it in a sentence and what type of verb you use will vary depending on the context.
If you are using a linking verb to identify the latest event in a series or group, your sentences might look like this:
- Thanksgiving was the most recent holiday.
- My most recent vacation was a trip to the mountains.
If you describe the latest instance of a repeatable event, you will usually use an action verb. The most recent event can be either the subject or the object of the action, depending on the context:
- The team’s most recent win happened three weeks ago.
- I passed my most recent math test with a perfect score.
Sometimes, you might include the most recent event within a prepositional phrase:
- I earned a perfect score on my most recent math test.
When Not to Use “Most Recent”
You can’t use “most recent” to describe events or information that are not the latest or newest of their kind. You also cannot use “most recent” to express a degree or magnitude of recentness.
If you are a reporter, accuracy is essential. So reporters diligently double-check the facts and information they use to avoid embarrassing mistakes. A reporter cannot describe the 2021 data as the “most recent data available” if the issuing agency has already published 2022 data.
Sometimes speakers use “most” as an expression of magnitude, similar to “very” or “extremely.” Usually, you will only encounter this in older literary writing. This use of “most” was once common in British English, but American English does not use it this way.
So you would not say “a most recent development” to simply say that the development is very new, but you can say “the most recent development” to describe the latest in a series of developments. Notice that in the correct superlative use, you will always use the definite article “the” in front of “most.”
What Can You Use Instead of “Most Recent”?
Below are other ways to express “most recent” and show magnitude in situations where “most recent” doesn’t work.
Here are some superlatives that you may use in place of “most recent”:
- Most proximate
If you want to express a degree of recentness, you can’t use “most recent,” but these other phrases will work:
- Very recent
- Extremely recent
- Quite recent
- Very new
If you want to modify a verb instead of a noun, you can’t use the adjective “most recent.” Instead, you will use the adverb “most recently” (source). Here are some examples:
- I go sightseeing every year. Most recently, I went to the Grand Canyon.
In this sentence, “most recently” modifies the verb “went.” It would be incorrect to use “most recent” here.
And let’s reword our sports example:
- Joe Batter has hit twenty home runs, most recently three weeks ago.
Earlier, we used “most recent” to describe a particular home run but here, “most recently” modifies the verb “has hit.”
Comparative and Superlative Adjectives
We use comparative and superlative adjectives to describe the degree or quantity of a trait among two or more related nouns. “Most recent” is an example of a superlative adjective.
We use comparatives to show that something has a greater or lesser degree of a trait than another. We use superlatives to describe the thing with the greatest or least degree of a trait among all the items we are comparing (source).
In English, you may change most one-syllable and some two-syllable adjectives into comparatives by adding “-er” or into superlatives by adding “-est” to the end of the word:
To modify most multi-syllable adjectives, place a comparative adverb (more, less) or a superlative adverb (most, least) before the adjective:
|Important||More important||Most important|
|Dangerous||Less dangerous||Least dangerous|
There are additional rules that depend on the number of syllables and whether an adjective ends in a consonant or vowel. But the most important rule to remember is that you will add an ending or an adverb, but never both.
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
To see more examples of comparatives and superlatives, read our article Is It Correct to Say “Eldest” or “Oldest”?
“Most recent” is a superlative adjective that you may use in casual conversation or formal writing to describe the latest in a series of events or emphasize that the event you are describing has not been repeated.