accurate / exact / precise

The word exact means that something is perfectly correct.

  • an exact replica/copy
  • someone’s exact words; the exact wording/phrase
  • exact measurements
  • an exact amount
  • the exact date/time/place

    The word accurate can mean “perfectly correct” as well, but it can also mean “almost correct; correct enough to be useful.”

  • an accurate number, measurement, calculation = a correct number, measurement, calculation
  • an accurate description, information, translation, prediction, estimate, memory or completely or mostly correct; any tiny differences from the truth are not significant enough to matter

    We can use adverbs of degree with the word accurate:

  • Something can be extremely/perfectly/totally accurate – this means it is perfectly correct, it is exact.
  • Something can be reasonably/generally/largely/pretty/fairly accurate –

    this means it is not perfectly correct; there are some mistakes, but it is correct in general.

    The word precise also means “perfectly correct”:

  • the precise wording of the contract
  • precise measurements = measurements that are correct
  • at that precise moment = at exactly that moment

    It has an additional meaning that is “clearly expressed” or “carefully distinct”

  • a precise description = a clear and detailed description
  • precise directions = clear and detailed directions
  • Can you be more precise? = Can you say it more clearly and specifically?