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I know that both can mean "correct". I frequently hear things like "合ってる?" to mean :"is it right?" I don't know much about the use of 正しい, but I know that it's also a common word for "correct".

What would be the difference between the two? Is there a preference for one over the other in certain situations and formality levels?

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    あってる in this context is spelt 合ってる.
    – Angelos
    Jul 28, 2017 at 1:35
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    Fixed 会う to 合 う.
    – Tommy
    Jul 28, 2017 at 5:21

2 Answers 2

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I understand your question is "what is the difference between 合う and 正しい?" as is said by Aeon Akechi.

合う means basically A is equal to B or A and B are equal. So if it is used like "あなたの答{こた}えは合っている", the phrase means "your answer is equal to the correct answer".
On the other hand 正しい means basically "right" along with the meaning of "correct".

So, 正 in 正しい is used in both ways.
For example, 正解{せいかい} means a correct answer, while 正義{せいぎ} means justice, right or righteousness.

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合う is a verb, 正しい is an adjective.

I've seen 合う's primary use as an intransitive verb with the meaning of "to fit" or "to match".

Examples: その洋服は彼女の赤い髪に合う。(That dress matches her red hair.) このジャケットはぴったり合う。(This jacket sets well.)

正しい's use as an i-adjective is a little different. 私の意見は大抵において正しい。(My opinion is generally correct.) 厳密に言うと、君は正しくない。(Strictly speaking, you're not correct.)

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