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The authors demonstrate that the probability of finding a new job can be higher in a high unemployment region than in a low unemployment one if the former has a higher rate of employee turnover* than the latter. As such, the theory that it is harder to find work in regions of high unemployment is not quite true.

*High turnover means more available job positions, hence better chance of getting one.

I wrote this. Person A argues that "not quite true" is just bad writing. They say that there is no such thing as "not completely true", that a statement is either true or false. I wanted to convey that that theory is a presumption, in reality it surely can be the case that workers can easily find work in high unemployment regions (depending on the turnover rate or job vacancy rate).

Question: Is Person A correct in pointing out that there is no such thing as "not completely true"? Should I instead say "is not always the case"?

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It all depends on where you are writing. In some academic writing understatement is used when demolishing another worker's theory. You might write 'Professor X might be mistaken in supposing...', when you mean 'X has got it all wrong again - as per usual'. Your phrase 'not quite true' would fit in with that style.

There are some subjects in which statements are either true or false, with nothing in between, but in very many subjects of academic interest there is always room for debate, so that is it possible for something to be nearly true, and therefore 'not quite true'.

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The question Is there such a thing as “not quite true”?

Of course there is. In many contexts things can be misrepresented.

You ran over my cat! That's not quite true, it ran into the middle of the road and I could not avoid hitting the poor thing.

It will cost us Billions to leave the E.U. That's not quite true if you take into account the payments we will no longer make!

Dependant on the perspective of the observers many situations can have various truths! To politely contradict someone in this situation it is common to use That's not quite true The alternative is to call them a liar, which, I would suggest, is not the best approach.

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  • Hi Brad, You ran over my cat is a true statement regardless of whose fault it is (if the car had indeed been moving when the cat was under its wheels). If the car came to a stop before hitting the cat (i.e., the cat ran into the car) then the statement you gave is false. I could not avoid hitting the cat does not mean I did not run over it or hit it. I did run over the cat but it was his fault makes the statement You ran over my cat true.
    – AIQ
    Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 3:04
  • "It will cost us Billions to leave the E.U" this statement by itself is either true/false. When you add the details, it is false. This is how someone explained the issue to me. And I am confused.
    – AIQ
    Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 3:07
  • @AIQ No it's is not a true statement. It has not happened so it is still just an assumption. I am sorry I mention a current topic. Bad example, because people can be emotional about such things. However, the fact remains that no matter what politicians would like you to think, no one know at this stage what will happen, so it is not fact. But the main point is that it is an example of a conversation, not a debate about Britex, as I like to call it.
    – Brad
    Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 4:33

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