If It’s the Same, Then It’s Exact

How often do we hear people say things such as This is exactly the same problem as we had the last time or I have the same exact shoes or Why do politicians use the same exact words every time they give speeches? (Well, maybe that last one is repeated ad nauseam only at our house.)

If something is the same, it’s already identical, that is, it’s exact; adding the word exactly or exact is redundant—-so don’t do it. If we have the same problem as last time, then we  have a problem that is exactly as the one we had the last time. If we have the same shoes as someone else, then we have shoes that match exactly to that person’s shoes. It’s either the same, or it isn’t; sticking an exactly in front of it doesn’t make it any more so.

It follows, then, that we should be saying This is the same problem (not exactly the same problem) as we had the last time and I have the same shoes (not exact same shoes); and around our house, we should be constantly talking about how politicians use the same words (not exactly the same words) every time they give speeches.


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