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My dictionary shows that meist and am meisten have similar meanings: most/mostly and related words.

What are the rules, if any, as to when either word should be used?

Ich höre meist Lieder von Rammstein.

Ich höre am meisten Lieder von Rammstein.

Which is right, are they both right, are they both wrong, etc.?

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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Meist, meistens and am meisten can have the same meaning: In the sentence of your post you may hear all three. Meistens will probably be the most frequent word, then am meisten, meist, the shortened form of meistens will be not so frequent.

In a sentence like

Was ich am meisten hasse, ist, wenn er mich betrügt.

you can only use am meisten meaning in the highest degree. And there is

Die meisten Schulkinder lernen heute English als erste Fremdsprache. (Most children ...)

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Maybe Meist, meistens and am meisten can have the same meaning but as @frlan pointed out they have different meaning in the OP. –  miracle173 Feb 3 at 0:25
    
Yepp.... it really depends on the context here -- Unfortunately. But don't be alarmed: Most of the German speakers don't see the differences at all. –  frlan Feb 3 at 7:55
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Very similar, but slightly differing meaning:

Ich höre meist Lieder von Rammstein. means something like "Most of the time I listen to songs of Rammstein" -- whereas Ich höre am meisten Lieder von Rammstein. means something like "Rammstein is my favorite band -- It's the band I'm listening to most". So the second meaning is it's used as a comparative degree comparing to other bands.

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Betrachten wir London, Paris und Belin, so regnet es in London am meisten.

"Es regnet in London meist" würde aber bedeuten, dass es dort häufiger regnet als nicht - ist also wohl eine Übertreibung. Meist nieselt es nur und ist neblig.

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