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  1. #1
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    Default Less than perfect

    Hi, I just tried to find the exact meaning of 'less than perfect'. I always thought it means 'imperfect' but not necessarily negative because nothing is perfect. but I start to wonder if it actually means something like unsatisfactory or so. Hope someone can help.

    In fact, does it have any rules for using this idiom?

    many thanks!

  2. #2
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Less than perfect

    Your guess is correct. This expression is usually used sarcastically.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Less than perfect

    Thanks!

    So, it means it is used in a negative situation. But I wonder if it's necessarily used in sarcastic way. I made up the following example:

    Son! If there's anything that makes your life less than perfect, try to remember what I've told you today. And your mom and I will always be here with you.

    Please advise if this is acceptable way to use this phrase! Thanks again!

  4. #4
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Less than perfect

    I would not use that phrase except in a negative, sarcastic manner. Your instincts are correct, nothing is perfect.

    "How was your exam this morning?"

    "Somewhat less than perfect. I was fifteen minutes late, I forgot my pen and then found out that I had studied the wrong chapter."

    "If you stay up all night drinking with your friends, don't be surprised if your performance at work is less than perfect."

    In other words less than perfect means not very good.

    A surgeon can, of course, say something like. "If this brain operation is less than perfect the patient will die," and that would mean any imperfection will be deadly, but I think a surgeon would choose different words in that situation.

    The sarcastic usage is by far the most common.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Less than perfect

    May I respectfully disagree?

    Everyone knows that no one and no thing is perfect.

    This expression is used mainly to convey a state of "almost perfect."

    I rarely hear it used sarcasticly.

    It is like a half full glass versus a half empty glass. You see this phrase as negative while I see it as positive.

  6. #6
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Less than perfect

    You certainly may disagree, and you are right to do so. I meant to say that the speakers of English I hear typically use this phrase sarcastically. There is no rule governing its usage.

    If you tell me that your glass is half empty, I think you want more.
    If you tell me that your glass is half full, I think you are still enjoying it.

    If you tell me that my project was almost perfect, I think you are pleased.
    If you tell me that my project is less than perfect, I think you are displeased.

    These are not universal rules of English, just descriptions of the dialect I am used to.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Less than perfect

    Thank you both. Now I think I have a better understanding of this phrase.

    I really enjoy this forum! ^_^

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