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Approximately vs. Exactly: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sara Rehman || Published on January 13, 2024
"Approximately" means close to a certain value but not exact, while "exactly" means precisely or without any deviation.

Key Differences

"Approximately" implies a degree of uncertainty or a range around a specific value, suggesting that the exact number is not critical. In contrast, "exactly" denotes precision and exactness, where the value mentioned is accurate without any margin of error.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024
When using "approximately," one allows for a margin of error or variation, acknowledging that the precise value is unknown or unimportant. "Exactly," however, affirms that the given information is precise and there is no room for variation or error.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024
In measurements, "approximately" is used when exact figures are unnecessary or unavailable, whereas "exactly" is used when precise and unambiguous figures are required.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024
"Approximately" is often employed in everyday language to convey estimates or generalizations, while "exactly" is used to convey factual, specific information.
Huma Saeed
Jan 13, 2024
In communication, "approximately" can suggest flexibility or estimation, whereas using "exactly" can indicate clarity, accuracy, and often, a stronger emphasis on the information being exact.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Precision

Not precise, allows for some deviation.
Precise, with no deviation.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024

Use in Language

Often used for estimates or ranges.
Used for specific, accurate information.
Huma Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

Mathematical Context

Used in approximations or rough figures.
Used for exact figures and calculations.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024

Communication Tone

Suggests a degree of flexibility.
Indicates certainty and accuracy.
Harlon Moss
Jan 13, 2024

Importance

Less critical for exact details.
Essential for precision and accuracy.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024
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Approximately and Exactly Definitions

Approximately

Nearly but not precisely.
It's approximately a ten-minute walk.
Sara Rehman
Dec 26, 2023

Exactly

Precisely and without deviation.
The answer is exactly 42.
Huma Saeed
Dec 26, 2023

Approximately

In the vicinity of a certain number.
The temperature is approximately 75 degrees.
Sara Rehman
Dec 26, 2023

Exactly

In an accurate and unerring manner.
He followed the instructions exactly.
Sara Rehman
Dec 26, 2023

Approximately

Close to but not exactly.
The cost is approximately $100.
Sara Rehman
Dec 26, 2023

Exactly

Used to emphasize the truth.
That's exactly what I meant.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 26, 2023

Approximately

Roughly estimated.
Approximately 20 people attended the event.
Sara Rehman
Dec 26, 2023

Exactly

Literally or in a strict sense.
She did exactly as she was told.
Sara Rehman
Dec 26, 2023

Approximately

About or around a certain figure.
She reads approximately two books a week.
Harlon Moss
Dec 26, 2023

Exactly

Identically or without difference.
The twins look exactly alike.
Sara Rehman
Dec 26, 2023

Approximately

Almost exact or correct
The approximate time of the accident.
Sara Rehman
Dec 26, 2023

Exactly

In an exact manner; accurately.
Sara Rehman
Dec 26, 2023

Approximately

Very similar; closely resembling
Sketched an approximate likeness of the suspect.
Sara Rehman
Dec 26, 2023

Exactly

In all respects; just
Do exactly as you please.
Sara Rehman
Dec 26, 2023

FAQs

Is "exactly" appropriate for estimates?

No, it's used for precise and accurate information.
Huma Saeed
Jan 13, 2024

How does "approximately" affect the meaning of a sentence?

It introduces a sense of estimation or approximation.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024

Can "approximately" be used in scientific contexts?

Yes, when precise data isn't available or needed.
Janet White
Jan 13, 2024

Can "exactly" be used to emphasize agreement?

Yes, it can emphasize strong agreement or confirmation.
Janet White
Jan 13, 2024

Is "approximately" suitable for legal documents?

Generally, no, as legal documents require precision.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024

Is "exactly" common in casual conversations?

It's used, but less common than in formal or precise contexts.
Janet White
Jan 13, 2024

What does "exactly" convey in a statement?

It conveys precision and accuracy in information.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 13, 2024

Can "approximately" be used for exact numbers?

No, it implies a degree of estimation or inaccuracy.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024

Does "approximately" suggest a certain level of uncertainty?

Yes, it acknowledges a margin of error or uncertainty.
Harlon Moss
Jan 13, 2024

Does "approximately" always mean the same as "about"?

In many contexts, yes, but "about" can be less formal.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024

Can "exactly" be used to stress accuracy in instructions?

Yes, it indicates that instructions should be followed precisely.
Harlon Moss
Jan 13, 2024

Is "approximately" useful in forecasting?

Yes, as forecasts often involve a degree of estimation.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024

Does "approximately" imply a large or small range?

It depends on context, but usually a small, reasonable range.
Janet White
Jan 13, 2024

Does "exactly" imply no room for error?

Yes, it suggests there is no tolerance for deviation.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 13, 2024

Is "exactly" suitable for describing feelings or opinions?

It can be used, but feelings and opinions are often subjective.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024

Can "exactly" be used in mathematical proofs?

Yes, it's essential for stating precise mathematical facts.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024

Is "approximately" more common in everyday language?

Yes, as everyday situations often involve estimates.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024

Can "approximately" be used in financial reports?

Yes, for estimated or rounded figures.
Janet White
Jan 13, 2024

Can "exactly" be used interchangeably with "precisely"?

Yes, they are often synonyms in terms of precision.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024

Does "exactly" enhance the credibility of information?

Yes, when used correctly, it can enhance precision and trustworthiness.
Sara Rehman
Jan 13, 2024
About Author
Written by
Sara Rehman
Sara Rehman is a seasoned writer and editor with extensive experience at Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Information Technology, she combines her academic prowess with her passion for writing to deliver insightful and well-researched content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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