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Do the words "very much the same" have the same meaning as "identical" or do these words imply that it's almost identical, but not totally?

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Identical = 'exactly the same' != 'very much the same'. – Mitch Feb 15 '13 at 14:23

As always, it depends on context. In reply to a question about someone’s state of health, you might hear ‘He’s very much the same, I’m afraid.’ You wouldn’t hear ‘He’s identical, I’m afraid.’

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You will in Chinese 一样 (yi-yang) and Japanese 同じ (onaji) = "the same" or "alike" or "identical" or "similar". – user21497 Feb 15 '13 at 12:08
@BillFranke so it covers both identical and similar? Identical does not. – Jon Hanna Feb 15 '13 at 18:41
@Jon: There are other words that are more restrictive in meaning, but in common usage, yes, the word covers the entire range. Just as in English we "put on" clothes, gloves, hats, and shoes, in Japanese, there's a particular verb for each of those actions. Different languages have different usages. Literal translations from Chinese especially are interesting, but I've been scolded about discussing at any length languages other than English. :-( – user21497 Feb 15 '13 at 23:39

Very much means "to a great degree", so I can see how you could take it to mean identical.

However, the very use of very much suggests a scalar comparison; if something can be very much something, then something else can be comparatively less so.

So while we wouldn't say ?"slightly the same", it remains that "very much the same" means almost identical, but not quite.

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Identical means exactly the same, as in twins or two items. Your version is correct, that things that are 'nearly the same' are just that, there may be a slight difference in size/shape/colour, etc.

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Very much the same and identical are not idenitical.

While very much can be an intensifier, in this phrase it means very nearly but not exactly. As such, it does not mean identical

exactly the same

However, as others have suggested, it may convey that something is effectively the same

My opinion of him is very much the same as yours.

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