“Persay” or “Per Se”: Which is Correct?

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Is it persay or per se?

It’s a common mistake to use persay when you actually mean per se. Be careful of this little typo!

You would be surprised to know that this word is often used wrong by English speakers with Urban Dictionary, a dictionary for slang words, carving out many meanings of per se.

If you manage to say “per se” correctly in a sentence, you are sure to sound intelligent and well-educated.

By the end of this post, you will know how to use per se correctly in English, its meaning, origin and example sentences. Let’s dive straight in!

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Persay and Per Say Meaning

Persay or per say is not a correct word. It is probably a typo, and you want to totally avoid using this in writing!

Per Se Meaning

Per se is a Latin phrase that was adopted for English use to mean “by itself” or “in and of itself.”

By itself; intrinsically. In other words, something that is per se does not need anything else to exist or to be known. It exists in and of itself.

It is often used to distinguish and compare two related yet separate ideas. It is usually used with negative constructs.

Examples of Sentences with Per Se

Here are some other example sentences using per se:

  • The movie wasn’t bad per se. (this sentence is fine, or you can add more to the sentence as shown in the next example)
  • The movie wasn’t bad per se, but I didn’t like it as much as the book.
  • I’m not lazy per se, but I do enjoy taking naps.
  • She’s not a bad driver per se, but she does tend to speed.
  • This isn’t a difficult task per se, but it is very time-consuming.
  • She is good at playing the guitar per se, but I don’t like her style.
  • The fact that he’s rude is not a reason to fire him, per se, but it is certainly grounds for a warning.

As you can see, per se is usually used to describe something that is true in and of itself, used to compare with another similar idea.

When Should You Use Per Se?

If you want to say that something is true in and of itself or by itself, then per se is the phrase you’re looking for. This is usually a term seen in law or academics.

It’s also acceptable in informal and formal conversation, and it gives the speaker a more intelligent or well-educated impression.

Origin of Per Say

Per se is a Latin phrase that has been adopted into English. It’s been in use since the1500s, according to the Dictionary.com.

This term has been used everywhere, from poets to politicians to philosophers.

It’s frequently used in connection with the legal profession, which derives much of its influence from Latin.

Does per se mean “so to speak”?

Per se does not mean the same thing as so to speak.

So to speak is an idiom that means “as one might say” or “in a way.”

For example, 

“They were such good friends one could almost say they were in love, so to speak.”

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In Conclusion

Per se is the correct word used to describe something that is true by itself.

You might also see per se written as persay. This is incorrect and you should avoid using this spelling.

Now that you know the difference start using per se in your own writing!

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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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