Public Services and Procurement Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Institutional Links


Important notice

Writing Tips has been archived and won’t be updated before it is permanently deleted.

For the most up-to-date content, please consult Writing Tips Plus, which combines content from Writing Tips and The Canadian Style. And don’t forget to update your bookmarks!

To begin your search, go to the alphabetical index below and click on the first letter of the word you are searching for.

accurate, precise

These two words are frequently misused.

Something accurate has no errors.

  • The inclusion of leap years keeps the solar calendar accurate.

Something precise is exact or specific.

  • The pair’s skating figures were precise.
  • Hank entered the room at the precise moment the phone rang.

However, despite being exact or specific, a precise answer may still be incorrect. For example, an accurate measurement is always exact, while a precise measurement is exact but not necessarily accurate (without error);

  • Sinead was precise in calculating the answer to the fourth decimal place; however, her answer was not accurate.
  • The weather channel forecast precisely 2 cm of snow; I only wish it had been accurate.