Someone you know will take a challenging exam, and you want to wish them more than the best of luck. Or you just attended the most fantastic party and want to let the host know they did well. In these cases, can we use the phrase “very best”? Is “very best” grammatically correct?
It is grammatically correct to use “very best.” We can use it in casual conversations but should avoid it in formal writing or official discussions. Using the “very” in front of the superlative “best” helps emphasize the statement, but it’s informal. For example, you can say, “She was the very best student in her class.”
We will explore more about “very best” in the rest of this article, including the various ways we can use it and when. In addition, we will briefly look at comparative and superlative adjectives in the language and where to use them.
What Does “Very Best” Mean?
The phrase “very best” means the absolute finest, the greatest, or the best of the best. To say that something is the “very best” is to emphasize that it is the “cream of the crop.” For example, a sandwich at a particular shop may be the “very best” sandwich you’ve ever had. Hyperbolic or literal, “very best” is a high compliment.
The word “very” means “to a high degree” or “exceedingly” (source).
“Best” is “the superlative of good” and refers to “things better than all others in quality or standard” (source).
When we use the two together, “very” emphasizes the superlative “best,” and thus, the phrase literally refers to “the best of the best.” So, for example, when we say something is the best, we emphasize that it is the best and nothing tops it (source)!
Depending on usage, “very best” can refer to “top-notch,” “of the highest quality,” or mean “to try as hard as possible,” or “put the most effort towards something.” It could also mean “the most” or “the grandest” of whatever word follows the phrase “very best” (source).
How Do You Use “Very Best”?
We use “very best” when we refer to someone or something as the highest among a group or when we want to discuss the utmost degree. Since the qualifier “very” emphasizes the superlative adjective “best” in this phrase, we use it to refer to something that is the best among the best or top-notch.
Given that it is an adjective, we need to use it with the subject or object it modifies. Note that since this phrase refers to one thing – the best of the best – among a group of things, it is singular by nature, and we have to precede it with “the.”
- He is the very best in his group.
- We always want the very best for our children.
- That model is the very best in the sports car category.
Depending on the sentence, we might need to use a possessive pronoun (my, his, her, our, their, your) before “very best” in the sentence.
- We will try our very best to attend the event.
- Sam sent across his very best wine to make up for his absence.
- My very best wishes are always with you.
Using “Very Best” in a Full Sentence
The phrase “very best” is incomplete on its own, and we will need to include additional information to let the listener know more about the thing or person we refer to as the “very best.” You usually place it near the noun it modifies in a full sentence.
Here are a few ways we can use “very best” in complete sentences:
- I wish you all the very best in everything.
- We commit to doing our very best for our customers.
- The teacher put together the very best of her students’ artwork on display.
- We wish you the very best of luck in all your endeavors.
- They have been the very best of friends since fifth grade.
When Can You Use “Very Best”?
Use “very best” in casual conversations when wishing someone luck, congratulating them, conveying that someone or something is top-notch or excellent, or even letting others know how hard you are working on or have worked on something.
For instance, when discussing ice cream flavors during a party with family and friends, if you want to let them know that you enjoy vanilla ice cream the most, you can say:
- Vanilla is the very best ice cream flavor ever!
With both “very” and “ever” in this sentence, you emphasize how much you like this ice cream flavor.
Consider a scenario where your close friend is about to attend an interview for a dream job and is nervous about it. You could say: “I wish you the very best of luck. Not that you will need it, for you are the very best candidate the company can get for this job!”
In the above sentence, you are wishing your friend the utmost luck for their interview while also reassuring them that they will get the job since they are the most qualified among all the excellent candidates for the position.
When Not to Use “Very Best”
Avoid using “very best” in formal or official conversations or writing. In these scenarios, using other phrases or words can work better because we use “very best” for casual conversations.
Use “very best” only to refer to things or people you consider the best or of the highest quality. When you use it otherwise, it might indicate sarcasm or mean the opposite instead.
In addition, avoid using it independently except in response to a question or statement where one can grasp its meaning in context.
- Q: Have you seen the latest Tom Cruise movie? How was it compared to the others?
- A: The very best!
What Can You Use Instead of “Very Best”?
We will often need to find other options for this phrase because we should avoid it in formal or official scenarios and sometimes want to use a different word or phrase. Since we use “very best” in various scenarios, we need to look at context and usage before we pick an alternative.
Thankfully, we have many options for this phrase for each of those varying scenarios. So let’s explore these scenarios and the alternatives for “very best” separately.
For instance, when we want to wish someone a lot of luck, instead of “very best,” we can simply say:
- All the best!
- Good luck!
In a scenario where we want to wish someone well to the utmost degree, we can use a phrase like one of the below:
- Wishing you nothing but the best!
- We wish you all happiness.
In situations where we want to refer to someone or something as being the “best of the best,” we can use some of the following words or phrases instead of “very best,” depending on which one fits in the original sentences.
- By far the best
- The most qualified
Comparative and Superlative Adjectives
Comparative and superlative adjectives help us show degrees of comparison between or among objects. We use comparative adjectives to compare differences between two things or show change.
On the other hand, superlative adjectives compare one thing to all other items in any category or group, where that one item is at the highest or lowest end of a scale (source).
For example, the following sentences use comparatives to show how one item is different from the other in a specific way or to demonstrate a change in some way:
- Anita’s backyard is larger than their neighborhood park.
- The room is messier than it was two hours ago! How is that possible?
- This hot chocolate tastes better with the toppings!
- The blue dress seems more beautiful than the green one.
As you can see from the above sentences, for most adjectives, we can turn them into their comparative forms by adding the suffix “-er.” This includes single-syllable adjectives and those ending in “-y.”
We use “more” ahead of adjectives with multiple syllables for comparison. Then there are a few irregular adjectives that follow different rules, like using “better” as the comparative form for “good.”
Superlatives show us the best or worst of a group of people or things, as in:
- Anita’s backyard is the largest one in their neighborhood.
- The cheetah is the fastest animal on earth.
- He is the best candidate for this job.
- The hot chocolate was the most popular drink at our camp.
Just as with comparatives, we form superlatives by either adding the suffix “-est” for single syllable adjectives and those ending in “-y” and using “most” ahead of multiple syllable adjectives. Irregular adjectives again follow different rules, like using “best” as the superlative for “good.”
We can add emphasis to both comparatives and superlatives using qualifiers like “very,” “much,” and “way,” among others.
- He is the very best candidate for this job.
- Doesn’t hot chocolate taste way better with marshmallows?
As you can see, when we use “very best,” we are using the superlative form of “good” and adding the qualifier “very” to emphasize that it is the “best of the best.”
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
Check out our article Is It Correct to Say “More Better”? to learn more about comparative and superlative adjectives, as well as irregular adjectives.
Using comparative and superlative adjectives helps us in our everyday conversations as we often compare things with one another or look for the best items in a category. So learning to use them is helpful, and knowing when and how to add emphasis to these adjectives in various contexts helps as well.
Learning English grammar and its rules can be tough, but we all know that practice improves our communication skills. Before we know it, we can be the “very best” at anything we try, including learning the English language.