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Or more generally: mit + superlative.

A friend of mine was reading something to me, when she suddenly said that.
The sentence was in the spirit of

Diese Variante ist mit am besten. (this variant is among the best)

After a short moment of alienation I remembered hearing that phrase before. I would like to know which grammatical functions mit takes on here.

According to Duden it's an adverb; if so, it's not a "normal" one (it cannot occupy the "Vorfeld" alone):

Es ist eingentlich am besten, dass [...]. / Eigentlich ist es am besten, dass [...].
Es ist mit am besten, dass [...]. / Mit ist es am besten, dass [...]. (sounds weird, even wrong)

So which kind of word is it precisely?

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  • Could be a particle after all. – user6191 Sep 6 '14 at 22:54
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You have overlooked that adverbs may also classify adjectives. In your example, mit acts as a modal adverb classifying am besten, having a meaning that is maybe translated best as not alone. This also explains why its position is fixed (as you elaborated in your second set of examples).

You can see that mit is classifying an adjective when used this way by looking at a case, where it clearly does not act on a sentence:

Wir besuchten Hintertupfingen, Kleinenkleckersdorf (mit das kleinste Dorf Deutschlands) und Pusemuckel. – We visited Hintertupfingen, Kleinenkleckersdorf ([which is] amongst the smallest villages of Germany) and Pusemuckel.

Maybe it also helps to look at the following two sentences for comparison, in which alleinig takes a comparable function:

Diese Variante ist alleinig am besten. – This variant is the only best.
Diese Variante ist die alleinig beste. – [as above]

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  • Oh my... it's an adjective! The superlative construction totally threw me off. What still bugs me is that alleinig can be moved away. – user6191 Sep 6 '14 at 21:41
  • Nice explanation! You could add the corrected example from the question: "Es ist mit am besten, dass ..." => "Mit am besten ist es, dass ..." I think it demonstrates that "mit" belongs to "am besten". – Matthias Sep 6 '14 at 21:44
  • Even all of these guys sound fine in the "Vorfeld" (some more, some less, but never as atrocious as mit) - what's so special about it? – user6191 Sep 6 '14 at 21:57
  • @Grantwalzer: Yes, you can move alleinig, but then it modifies diese Variante which results a sentence with an identical meaning and slightly different emphasis. – Wrzlprmft Sep 6 '14 at 22:33
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    @Grantwalzer "Mit am besten ist es, dass ..." doesn't sound atrocius (IMHO). You just have to move "mit" together with the adjective it is classifying. - Try to produce a sentence with one of your "guys" where the adverb classifies the adjective. E.g. "Die Beschreibung ist überaus hilfreich." There you have to move the whole group into the "Vorfeld" as well: "Überaus hilfreich ist die Beschreibung." – Matthias Sep 6 '14 at 22:39

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