Don't Use "Exact Same"

Q: Is the term “exact same” correct? As in: “The sisters were raised in the exact same environment?”—Judy R.

A: No, the term “exact same” isn’t correct. Why? For the same reason “end result,” “unexpected surprise” and “basic fundamentals” are wrong—they’re redundant. While all these expressions have sneaked into daily conversations around the water cooler, none of them represents good grammar.

If my pair of pants is exactly like your pair of pants, then—aside from us both having a keen sense of style—we’re wearing the same pants. If you’re comparing items that aren’t exact or the same, then they’re similar—so combining the words to form the phrase “exact same” adds no extra meaning.

If you ever become concerned that a phrase may be redundant, think about it logically and write it out. Just think: A result is always what you get at the end—if you got it in the middle, why continue forward? If your surprise isn’t unexpected, it’s not much of a surprise. And if you study the fundamentals of writing, you’ll avoid such basic mistakes as using redundant phrases.

Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at WritersDig@fwpubs.com with “Q&Q” in the subject line. Come back each Tuesday as I try to give you more insight into the writing life.

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0 thoughts on “Don't Use "Exact Same"

  1. Kiki

    You wrote, "If my pair of pants is exactly like your pair of pants, then—aside from us both having a keen sense of style—we’re wearing the same pants."

    Aside from really crowding that one pair of pants, would you parse that intervening phrase for me? I’d use "aside from our both having a keen sense of style," so that "aside from" doesn’t have to handle both "us" and "having."

  2. Levi Montgomery

    While I agree that such redundant phrases are poor grammar, and certainly wouldn’t use them in any kind of technical writing, or non-fiction in general, I think it is important to recognize the fact that, as you say, they have "sneaked into daily conversations around the water cooler." Therefore, I wouldn’t hesitate to use them in fiction, not only in actual dialog, but in character-voiced narrative as well, simply because they do, in fact, accurately represent the way real people talk.

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