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Is there any difference between these two sentences? Which one is grammatical in speech?

  • I will do my best.
  • I will do my level best.
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1  
Have you looked up level in a dictionary? See definition 36. –  Matt Эллен Apr 19 '12 at 13:12
    
They are both correct/grammatical. The second one adds more color. –  Mitch Apr 19 '12 at 14:41
    
OP doesn't ask about the etymology of "level best" - which might be a bit more complex. I think it's General Reference that it means "very best", so all we're really dealing with here is the difference between trivial and very trivial. –  FumbleFingers Nov 10 '12 at 16:28
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closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, StoneyB, tchrist, MετάEd, Kris Nov 11 '12 at 8:24

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2 Answers

up vote 0 down vote accepted

Go for "I will do my best." "level best" is cliched and unnecessary to express this idea.

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thanks for rpl ,but once i said "I will do my best" my senior (having good communication skills) corrected me, "I will do my level best." –  nibha Apr 19 '12 at 13:17
    
I half-guessed from the question that you are from India. Tell your senior he/she is using a hackneyed, dull and needless phrase. This is passe now. –  Bravo Apr 19 '12 at 13:21
4  
That's awfully prescriptive. Level is merely an intensifier, shop-worn though it may be, and does bolster the assertion a bit. –  Robusto Apr 19 '12 at 13:28
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@Robusto, I agree. See this interesting explanation of the origins of level best from a January 1899 periodical. books.google.com/… –  JLG Apr 19 '12 at 13:40
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@Shyam - your link says that saying "level best" is fine. > There is nothing wrong in saying level best. –  Matt Эллен Apr 19 '12 at 14:02
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Curiously, the statements

I will do my best.

and

I will do my level best.

are, on the face of it, assurances that the speaker intends to try hard and really hard, respectively. But they also can be used to cast doubt on the assertion. If someone gives you a task you feel is impossible to perform, responding with "I will do my best" actually can mean you believe you will fail even though you are going to try as hard as you are able. Adding "level" or any other intensifier can be used to enhance the mood of doubt.

Ain't English grand?

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