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Thread: precise

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    Default precise

    1/Precise and exact are the synonyms. When do I use precise, or exact?


    2/Another question. one of meanings of precise is:
    Exact in measuring, recording, etc.: a precise instrument.
    _Could you explain this meaning?
    thanks.

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    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: precise

    If you say someone is about a meter and a half tall, that's not precise.

    You can say "He's 1.57 meters" and that is exact/precise. In that case, they are synonyms.

    To be precise, you need to have precise measurement. When you go to the grocery store and toss a few apples in the scale there, you are not getting a precise measurement. It's enough for you to estimate the cost of the apples. If you go to a scientist's laboratory, you will need a precise measuring device to get a precise measurement.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    Default Re: precise

    Could you explain the small difference between them?
    Thanks

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    Default Re: precise

    They are synonyms for me.

    I tend to use "precise" for scientific uses, but I don't see a difference between them in meaning.

    Perhaps a scientist will tell us about the differences.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    Default Re: precise

    so I can use them in any case with no worry, can't I

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    bertietheblue is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: precise

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    They are synonyms for me.

    I tend to use "precise" for scientific uses, but I don't see a difference between them in meaning.
    Yeah, I agree. I mean, most synonyms are not true synonyms but these are not far off - it's a real struggle to come up with an actual difference and the only thing I can think of is, as you say, 'precise' is used more in science and techology: precise measurements, tools, mechanisms, etc.

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    Default Re: precise

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    I tend to use "precise" for scientific uses, but I don't see a difference between them in meaning.
    Science teachers don't like the misuse of the word "precise". I can tell you from experience.

    I'd say the only real difference is that something is "exact" when it is literally impossible for it to get any more precise, as it is already at a perfect precision.
    E.g. The square root of 2: 1.41421356... you can keep going on and on, and you'd get more precise, but the only way you can be exact is by expressing that number as √2.

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    bertietheblue is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: precise

    Just a thought: do these have the same meaning:

    'It's exactly 2 o'clock.'
    'It's precisely 2 o'clock.'?

    I would more naturally say the first after having glanced at my watch; but if I was staring at my watch and waiting for the exact (precise) moment it turned 2 o'clock, I'd be likely to say the second. This kind of ties in with the idea of 'precise' being used more in science and technology, doesn't it? I mean, it's like you're reducing time to the scientifically measurable seconds of a minute of an hour, no?

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    Default Re: precise

    Quote Originally Posted by Score_Under View Post
    Science teachers don't like the misuse of the word "precise". I can tell you from experience.
    But isn't their gripe that it is confused with 'accurate' and not 'exact'?

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    Default Re: precise

    Woa! English is great, but so confusing!

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