"the biggest provider" A question for native English speakers
Thread poster: fallenangel

Local time: 07:36
Turkish to English
+ ...
Oct 13, 2010

Hello dear colleagues,

I had a translation exam less than a week ago and came across with the following sentence:

"The EU is the biggest provider of financial assistance to poorer countries"

Although the sentence seems quite an easy one for even learners at the beginner level, let alone translators, perhaps out of unnecessary tension and stress of mine, I was a little bit confused and translated the sentence in a way that it came to mean something like: "The EU provides most of the financial assistance.." in my mother tongue. What I wonder is, whether the "biggest provider" can imply that the subject of the sentence also provides more financial assistance than any other provider or not.

Actually, I was confused because I thought being "the biggest provider" in terms of size would be less sensible than in terms of the quantity of the assitance.

Thank you in advance,

Best regards


Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 07:36
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Biggest doesn't mean they provide more than 50% of total Oct 14, 2010

Sorry, but your translation is certainly inaccurate. Imagine the following hypothetical situation:

A 30%
B 20%
C 40%
D 10%

With 40%, C is the "biggest" provider but doesn't provide "most of the" assistance, since 40% is less than half of all assistance.


Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:36
French to English
+ ...
Provides more than others Oct 14, 2010

From the statement you've given, we do not know whether the EU provides "most of" the assistance (i.e. a very large percentage), but we do know that it provides more than all other donors.

Synonyms to "biggest" here might have been "largest", "most significant" or "most generous".

Personally, I would not have used "biggest" had I written the sentence as it sounds somewhat colloquial to my ear (although there is technically nothing wrong with it).

Does that help clarify things?

Good luck,


Local time: 07:36
Turkish to English
+ ...
Thank you Oct 14, 2010

Hello again and thank you very much for your interest

I reviewed my post and saw that having not written the translated sentence properly, I could not make my point well enough, sorry for that.

I translated it as: "The EU is the actor which contributes most to the poorer countries."

Ruling out the word-for-word option, I dared a sentence clearer in any sense but doubts have not stopped following me since then.

The point I would like to draw your attention to was that although the percentage of the aid is unknown to us, I perceived and still perceive that by "the biggest", the sentence seems to convey the message that it holds the first ranking among the other contributors.

The imaginary hypothesis is very clarifying indeed, first I thought I made a terrible mistake but having recalled the exact translation, I can see that the post of dear Jocelyne confirmes my translation in terms of the position of the EU among others.

I am grateful for your replies,

Greetings from Turkey


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"the biggest provider" A question for native English speakers

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