In point of fact or in fact or as a matter of fact

In fact is by far the more common idiom. It is phrase that is used to emphasize a particular truth, especially if it is contrary to what would commonly be understood. A good synonym is actually.

In point of fact means exactly the same thing, only takes more words to do it. Most of the time it is listed in dictionaries, if it is listed at all, as in (point of) fact.

One benefit to the longer phrase is that it calls even more attention to the shared truth. However, most of the time it is simply seen as a cumbersome phrase and has been falling in its popularity since the 1800s.


A related phrase is as a matter of fact. It is still a synonym, slightly more common than the point of fact variation, but does not come close to in fact’s usage. Sometimes this is used in conversation to emphasize a differing opinion, usually in response to a wrong assumption by the other person (e.g., “As a matter of fact, I do want that cookie.”).

Note here that an alternate wording matter-of-fact, used as an adjective to mean strictly truthful and straightforward, is distinctly different than as a matter of fact.


Writing in 1908, Woodrow Wilson called it the beginning of constitutional government. But in fact, it was only one of many documents from the period, in England and elsewhere, codifying limitations on government power. [The New York Times]

In point of fact, not only do many things work better than competition, but competition doesn’t really work all that well. [Huffington Post]

“Delly’s not a dirty player at all, as a matter of fact he’s exactly the opposite,” Hunt said. [Sydney Morning Herald]


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  1. GoatGuy says:

    Aren’t we just a bit aggrandizing “a matter of fact”? English is chock-full of idiomatic phrases that bear only vestigial relationship to the original phrase’s intent.

    Jill: “Jack, would you like a cookie?”Jack: “Why, as a matter of fact, I would!”Jill: “Here you go, you ol’ Teddybear”

    a matter of fact is neither a matter, nor a fact. It is a fillip, a pleasantry that has risen into common parlance. Jack could have responded an affirmation-of-desire-for-a-cookie in any of hundreds of ways.

    I think rather the same of most commonplace uses of “in fact”. It seems more often than not to be an ornamentation, like underline or italics or bold … but linguistic (or rhetorically), not orthographically.

    Truly though, I cannot find fault with mellifluous banter, gussied up by a handful of flowery phrases and rhetorical ornamentations. Heck… this very comment is quite full of ’em.


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