The sentence goes: This resulted in my project being evaluated merely as "Sufficient", instead of (on/at/as) the borderline between "Great" and "Superb".

So let's say that 80-90% would be "Great" and 90-100% Superb, and I would want to emphasize that the I would have received exactly 90% (therefore, on the borderline) if evaluated correctly. Which proposition is correct (if any)?


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    Usually, something is on the borderline, as that NGram shows. But it would be fatuous to suppose that makes is "wrong" to speak of things being at the borderline. I'm not going to bother checking, but I wouldn't mind betting things are at the margin more often than on it. Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 20:26
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    If these are inclusive ranges, then 90% is both great and superb, which I doubt they are. I'd bet a lot of money that 90% is a non-negotiable particular grade, and there's no point in emphasizing that it's on the borderline. If 90% is actually "Great," then you're emphasizing that you didn't quite make "Superb," whereas if 90% is "Superb" then you're emphasizing that you only barely made it. Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 0:13
  • Sorry, maybe I haven't expressed myself clearly: it's not really that I would like to emphasize the borderline score, it's more that I cannot really pick one of them, since the result was/should have been exactly 90%, and the grading system is actually poorly designed and indeed inclusive: 80-90% & 90-100%. Therefore, I cannot/do not want to really guess which of the two grades I would have received.
    – ziu
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


I would say that it really depends on how many percentage points "thick" the borderline is. It sounds to me like whoever is grading your papers has their own system. If you fell within the borderline then it stands to reason that you should have received the higher score, but without knowing for certain it could be viewed as presumptuous and earn you a bit of ill will from your teacher. If I wanted to correct the sentence I would write it as "This resulted in my project being evaluated merely as 'sufficient', instead of on the cusp between 'great' and 'superb'." The most relevant definition of "cusp" is below.

From Merriam Webster noun a :  a point of transition (as from one historical period to the next) :  turning point; also :  edge, verge

  • As explained in the comment above, this is exactly what I am concerned about: as I do not know for certain, I do not want to put anything in my teacher's mouth. "On the cusp" actually sounds good (even though I have never heard the expression before), so I think I'll just stick to that. Thanks!
    – ziu
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 20:49

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