I have the same book as you have.

I have the same book that you have.

In Korea, we learn that the same...as and the same...that have different meanings. Teachers or grammar books say that the first example sentence means the book is not the same one but the same kind of that book or one of the same books in the bookstores, while the second means the book is the very book you have.

Swan, however, explains in his book Practical English Usage that there is no difference in meaning between the two cases.

Who is correct?

4 Answers 4


Many English speakers don't mind the ambiguity that arises in this situation. For example, in the following sentence, the speaker is merely saying that their briefcases are the same design, maker, etc (like the books in the bookstore in your example):

We have the exact same briefcase!

However, those of us who do would probably modify the sentence

I have the same book as you have.

into either

I have the same book that you have.

Or more likely

I have the same book as you.

The former sentence implies sharing - just like it would is Korea, whereas the latter sentence implies that the books are separate, but the same book (again, like your example - but notice that I am ok saying the same to describe it).

To sum it all up, same as and same that do have different meanings, but most English speakers do not differentiate the two.


Let's dissect these:

I have the same book as you have. = I have a book which is the same as the book you have.

I have the same book that you have. = I have the same book, which you also have.

Due to the vagaries of modern English "that" has replaced "which" in some instances as a relative pronoun. I'd prefer your first suggestion over the second.

As far as your teacher's finding different meanings for "as" and "that", I'd say that the second case could mean what you are saying, but generally not. Using "same... that" covers both meanings. If you wanted to say the book is the very same I would advise a clearer rephrasing. Of course, context would eliminate most of these problems.


Actually the same book refers to a singular book. We use it to refer to duplicate, identical, or very similar objects ironically as though we actually have the same book at the same time though we do not.

A more accurate way to say it would be:

My book has the same content that yours has.


My book is the same as yours

This acknowledges the separate objects but that they are basically identical.


You only say that when there is a verb. The bike is the same that you bought me. (1)

But in the other example, there is no verb. So you just say: The bike is the same as mine. (2)

It is also possible to use both: The bike is the same as the one that you bought me. (3)

For the record, (1) sounds very unnatural to me. I would use (3) if I were speaking normally.

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