Grammar Grappler #33: We Arrived at the Seminar Wearing the Exact Same Jacket
This actually happened to me when I was facilitating a continuing education class for 200 accountants in Charlotte, North Carolina, a few years back. An audience member and I were wearing identical outfits.
As a teenaged girl, I would have been mortified.
As adults, we both complimented one another on excellent taste and posed for a photo after the class.
But, grammatically speaking, we weren’t wearing the EXACT SAME jacket; we were wearing the SAME jacket. The phrase “exact same” has slipped into our daily conversations, but it is not correct for two reasons.
One: Adjectives don’t modify other adjectives; that’s an adverb’s job. Exact is an adjective.
Two: It’s redundant because sameness doesn’t come in degrees. It’s the same. Period. So, instead of saying, “The boys arrived at the exact same time,” simply say, “The boys arrived at the same time.” Otherwise, you are saying they arrived at the same same time.
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