I've been racking my brain trying to think of a grammatically correct sentence that uses same without the earlier in the same (see!) phrase.

It is the same

It is the very same

I have 10 things all the same

I have 10 of the same things

The same boy as last time did it again

The boy did the same thing as last time

I am discounting same-day dry cleaning and any similar phrases that might crop up because using a hyphen is acceptable which suggests it's an atomic phrase and it sounds awkward if inverted:

They have a same-day dry cleaning service.

Their dry cleaning service is same-day. - Sounds odd but might be acceptable in some situations

Their dry cleaning service is done on the same day. - Sounds better

So I don't think it's possible when same is used by itself. Can someone either explain why same must always have the before it or provide a grammatically correct counter-example?

  • 2
    "That very same person was here yesterday"; "Those exact same people were here yesterday";
    – Othya
    Mar 23, 2015 at 13:34
  • 2
    @centaurus No, it's not a dupe at all. Those questions ask about "some same person" or about using "same" on its own. All of the answers on those pages are in any case, incorrect Mar 23, 2015 at 14:46
  • 1
    Just FTR, note that in current English it's now very common to use "Same.", alone, as a whole sentence. It means basically "I agree with you and have had the identical experiences, and agree with your outcomes and decisions."
    – Fattie
    Mar 23, 2015 at 16:00
  • 1
    HI Araucaria. I apologise, I have never seen that (very strange) usage before. Allow me to revert the edit Cheers!
    – Fattie
    Mar 23, 2015 at 16:20

3 Answers 3


The word same is usually used with the definite article. However, it can be used with any central determiner which marks the noun phrase as definite:

  • these same ideas
  • those very same people
  • my same friend
  • whose same idea
  • Ben's same problems

There are also some stock phrases which don't use the definite article. For example the two word reply:

  • Same difference.

There are also a few examples of same being used with an indefinite article in published books. Here's a quote from a philosophy book:

  • Striking as well is that a same idea is several times repeated, but each time the wording shows up to be somewhat different.

We can even find examples of same with the negative determiner no:

  • The chairman and vice-chairman would serve a term of 1 year, with no renewal of term for the chairman (either as chairman or vice-chairman) and the further stipulation that no same person may serve as the vice-chairman for a consecutive period of more than two years.

Notice that using "same" with these determiners and the definite article leads to ungrammatical results:

  • the these same ideas
  • those the very same people
  • my the same friend
  • the whose same idea
  • Ben's the same problems
  • a the same idea
  • the no same person

This is because English does not allow two so-called central determiners for the same noun.

  • 5
    In what context can "no same person" be used? When I read that my mind automatically leaps to it being a typo of "no sane person." Mar 23, 2015 at 16:33
  • 4
    @KyleStrand "The chairman and vice-chairman would serve a term of 1 year, with no renewal of term for the chairman (either as chairman or vice-chairman) and the further stipulation that no same person may serve as the vice-chairman for a consecutive period of more than two years" was the last one I found ... Don't think that's a typo, but could be wrong :) Would be quite amusing as "no sane person". Mar 23, 2015 at 16:37
  • 3
    That's certainly not a typo, though I would have phrased it as "stipulation that the same person may not," rather than "no same person may." So I guess I'd say I don't really consider that "good English", but it's an attestation, at least. Mar 23, 2015 at 16:42
  • 1
    @KyleStrand That phrasing sounds completely fine to me, but I agree that your rephrasing is also correct. Consider these rephrasing with synonyms: "...the further stipulation that no identical person may serve as the vice-chairman..." or "...the further stipulation that no duplicate person may serve as the vice-chairman...".
    – DCShannon
    Mar 24, 2015 at 19:44
  • 1
    I think your first paragraph answers the question. Examples 3-5 sound odd to me. I'd say identical instead. I think I unconsciously but deliberately avoid those constructions, e.g. the same friend of mine. same difference is just shorthand for It's the same difference. Pity you didn't say which philosophy book! The business example sounds like legalese, is that counted as English? :-P So, it sounds like the literal answer to my question as worded is "Yes" but to the idea behind the question (the spirit of the question) it's "No": same must be preceded by a definite determiner.
    – CJ Dennis
    Mar 27, 2015 at 7:49

Same is occasionally used in a technical sense to mean "the aforementioned person/thing." For example:

We are responsible for the house and any costs of same.

In most typical occasions, however, that would not be considered proper syntax.

  • 3
    But even in that case, omitting the is a shorthand. It would normally be included.
    – Andrew Leach
    Mar 23, 2015 at 13:53
  • 5
    Well, it would sometimes be included. Nobody's counting, and this is business/legal language, which is weird to start with. In any event, same is itself a shortening (or if you prefer, an equative pronoun) for the same Description as Definite NP; -- here, and we are responsible for any costs of the same house that is referred to in the preceding clause. I.e, it represents a complete equative construction, whose parts are understood in context, the same way we are responsible is understood. Mar 23, 2015 at 14:05
  • Why not 'any costs of the same house'?
    – Anubhav
    Jun 25, 2016 at 13:07
  • "We are responsible for the house and any costs of the same house" sounds unnecessarily clunky. As John Lawler clarified, this phrasing is legal language. In normal conversation it would probably be "We are responsible for the house and any of its costs."
    – Nicole
    Jun 27, 2016 at 22:50

How about this?

Two students who give the exact same answers on essay questions are probably cheating. Therefore, I will automatically penalize same answers by ten points.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.