I thought this was a common phrase, but it has 0 Google results.

Example sentence:

He was wrong about calling her mentally sick. However, he hadn't missed the target by too far.

If the phrase isn't grammatical/idiomatic, what's a better option?

  • 1
    The reason you didn't get any results is partly because to hit/miss a target is usually a "binary outcome" situation (you either hit the target or you don't). It's meaningful to say you didn't miss a target by far (you definitely missed it, but not by much), but if you didn't miss it by too far that tends to imply you were close enough (i.e. - you did in fact "succeed" - it's just that the target was imprecisely defined). The problem (such as it is) is in the semantics, not the syntax. – FumbleFingers Jan 19 '17 at 15:02

Your phrase is grammatical (I might say didn't miss the target by too much), and I imagine that most people would understand its meaning, however I'm not so sure about idiomatic - at the very least, other idioms would be more commonly used.

A very similar idiom that's often used in English is not (so/too) far off the mark - in other words, not far away from the target. For example.

He was wrong about calling her mentally ill. However, He wasn't too far off the mark.

(as a side note, we tend to refer to people as being '*mentally ill', rather than 'mentally sick')

A variant of this is wide of the mark, e.g.

He was wrong about calling her mentally ill. However, He wasn't too wide of the mark.


a more common alternative (according too google):

"...,he wasn't totally wrong".

So, to avoid the repetition, but keep the antithesis, the sentence could become like:

"He wasn't right about calling her mentally sick. Although, he wasn't totally wrong"

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