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  1. We were both looking in the same book but each at exactly the same page.
  2. We were both looking in the same book but each at the exact same page.

Is there any difference (whatever difference) between the former and the latter sentence?

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    A semantic difference?
    – TimR
    Jan 23, 2018 at 13:32
  • I'm having a real hard time trying to pinpoint the difference... One thing that is obvious is that one is an adverb and the other is an adjective. Jan 23, 2018 at 13:54
  • In the first statement "Exactly", an adverb, is showing the speciality of the action "looking at". In the second statement, "Exact" is functioning as an adjective, showing the importance of "the same page". Here, it is bolstering the fact that the two books are on the same page. Thus, the two sentences have the same meaning; the only difference is that the stress is at two different facts in the two sentences. Jan 23, 2018 at 13:54
  • I thought so too, at first, however, this seems to be an incorrect point of view. I guess that this is because eventually both "exactly" and "exact" speak of the "same page". Jan 23, 2018 at 14:00
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    We were both looking at exactly the same page from the same book. We were both looking at the exact same page from the same book. Exact same is being used as an adverb to mean very, though technically it isn't, an adverb to qualify the adjective same.
    – Lambie
    Jan 23, 2018 at 14:03

1 Answer 1

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There is no real difference in meaning - both words have the same derivation. Lots of adjectives have corresponding adverbs.

  • Exact / Exactly
  • Precise / Precisely
  • Correct / correctly

How you use them can differ. For example, an adverb can often be placed before or after the verb it affects:

  • They were born on precisely the same day.
  • They were born on the same day precisely.

The key point here is not to over-analyse this particular example, because, while 'the exact same' is certainly an idiom said by many English speakers, it doesn't hold up to grammatical scrutiny because it is a redundancy. If two things are "the same" (and not just 'similar') then they have no differences. They cannot be any more 'the same'. "The exact same" is just something said for emphasis rather than meaning.

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  • In your example the structuring doesn't consort with the structuring in the example I provided. Jul 10, 2023 at 14:05
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    @SovereignSun You're right, but the principle is the same. I'm teaching you to fish, not giving you a fish.
    – Astralbee
    Jul 10, 2023 at 14:33

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