the precisely Adj N

Tom Zurinskas truespel at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu May 28 11:08:11 UTC 2009

The choice is between the two forms:

1. He wants to get precisely the correct (type of) cleat.
2. He wants to get the precisely correct (type of) cleat.
(I assume we're talking about a "type of cleat" not one individual cleat.)

I'd go with 1.  The precision is in the conscious choice not in the cleat itself.  In usual context I think they both work, unless there is one cleat hidden in a bunch with defects and it is the only "precisely correct cleat."  If the task then is to find "the only precisely correct cleat," then 2 is the choice.

Tom Zurinskas, USA - CT20, TN3, NJ33, FL5+

> Date: Thu, 28 May 2009 13:47:17 +0800
> From: strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM
> Subject: Re: the precisely Adj N
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Randy Alexander
> Subject: Re: the precisely Adj N
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Thu, May 28, 2009 at 2:47 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>>>>Just saw this in a NYT article:
>>>>"By the time the children go to bed, I am as drained as any mother who
>>>>has spent her day working, car pooling, building Lego castles and
>>>>shopping for the precisely correct soccer cleat."
>>>>(Quoted sentence is on the second page.)
>>>>I would have to change that to "precisely the correct soccer cleat".
>>>What am I missing here? Â "the precisely correct soccer cleat" sounds
>>>okay to me (aside from being a rather startling idea).
>> You're missing othing, I think, Alison. Â "The precisely correct
>> soccer cleat" is the one that fits perfectly. Â Think Industrial
>> Revolution and interchangeable parts.
> Maybe it's just me then. It's certainly less common though.
> Raw Google:
> "precisely the" 6,600k
> "the precisely" 130k
> precisely the [j*] 284
> the precisely [j*] 10
> I still think that something like "that's precisely the right answer"
> is OK, but "that's the precisely right answer" is weird, if not
> unacceptable.
> --
> Randy Alexander
> Jilin City, China
> My Manchu studies blog:
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