A while ago I got a question about the difference between “mesta” and “flesta”.
To solve this problem we need to learn the difference between countable nouns and uncountable nouns. Uncountable nouns are substances, concepts etc. that we cannot divide into separate elements. We cannot “count” them. For example, we cannot count “milk”. We can count “bottles of milk” or “liters of milk”, but we cannot count “milk” itself. Here are more uncountable nouns:
- smör (butter)
- ris (rice)
- socker (sugar)
- kaffe (coffee)
- music (music)
- konst (art)
- kärlek (love)
- pengar (money)
- elektricitet (electricity)
- information (information)
In the examples above the nouns are uncountable both in Swedish in English, but sometimes that’s not the case. The word “news” is for example an uncountable noun in English but a countable noun in Swedish:
en nyhet, nyheter (countable noun)
en möbel, möbler (countable noun)
What does this have to do with the difference between “de flesta” and “det mesta”? The answer is that to express “the most” for countable nouns we use:
många – fler – flest – de flesta
(many – more – most – the most)
With a countable noun it could look like this:
många elever – fler elever – flest elever – de flesta eleverna
Anna har många elever I sin klass.
Lisa har fler elever än Anna i sin klass.
Göran har flest elever av alla.
De flesta eleverna kommer från Tyskland.
With uncountable nouns we can use a little and much:
- I’ve got a little money.
- I haven’t got much rice.
In Swedish it would be:
mycket – mer – mest – det mesta
(a lot/much – more – most – the most)
Here are some examples with “mycket”, “mer”, “mest” and “det mesta”:
Anna dricker mycket kaffe.
Lisa dricker mer kaffe än Anna.
Göran dricker mest kaffe.
Det mesta kaffet som Göran dricker kommer från Colombia.
Thank you for reading and have fun learning Swedish!