Below are two variants of a conversation about e.g. some rule:

Initial statement:

His understanding of the rule is wrong.

Reply 1:

Not just his understanding, but the rule itself is wrong.

Reply 2:

Not just his understanding, but the very rule is wrong.

Are both phrases rule itself and very rule idiomatic? Do they mean the same?


The rule itself= modern usage

Less modern: the very rule= rather old-fashioned, might be used in some circumstances in writing. Not usually used in conversational speech.

Both are idiomatic. Yes, they basically mean the same thing.

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