1. Tony has the same book as I do (He now has my very book).
  2. Tony has the same book as mine (His book is a copy of my book,it has the same title,written by the same writer).
  3. Tony's car is the same as mine (Our car are similar, they have a similar model, they are both Fiat 500, for example ).
  4. Tony drives the same car as me (He is now driving my own car and not a different one).

I'd like to focus your attention on the pattern "same as". We all know that it could mean 1) similar to or 2) identical. My question was how can I understand whether it means "similar" or "identical"? My hypothesis is:

  • if the "as" is followed by a objective pronoun, it means "identical, exactly the thing mentioned and not another one".
  • if the "as" is followed by a possessive pronoun (mine, yours, theirs, etc.), it means "of the same type, similar".
  • 1
    I don't think I agree with your premises. I could easily read "Tony drives the same car as me" to mean "Tony and I drive the same type of car". – bradimus Mar 23 '16 at 17:54
  • Related: You're in the same situation as me / mine – Yay Mar 23 '16 at 17:55
  • If you are asking about interpreting what you read or hear, then I'm afraid you often have to rely on context to make this distinction. If you're asking about how to write, then I recommend avoiding such ambiguous constructions. – PellMel Mar 23 '16 at 20:56

There is no syntactical rule to determine this, you just have to get it from the context. For example, I would normally read all of your examples as referring to similar, but not identical, objects.

Other clues being absent, I think that ("similar, not identical") is the default position for most readings, even for something more direct like

Tony and I learned from the same book.

...I would still say that means two copies of the same title. You need something like this to make it explicit:

Tony and I learned from the same copy of the book.

Update: to answer @Peter's question, while what follows "the same as" seems to make no difference, actually there is one simple modification that helps, and that is to use "the very same" to indicate identity as opposed to similarity:

Tony and I learned from the very same book.

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  • Threfore it does not matter if "the same"is followed by "as I do" or by "as mine",the meaning depends on then context.Doesn't it ? – Peter Mar 23 '16 at 18:29

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