Sunday, May 13, 2007


The Farther/Further Facts

Hello, again, Grammar Bloggers, and I hope you're all having a great day! In honor of our recently celebrated Mother's Day, I have decided to focus on another common problem that's near and dear to my mom's heart: the misuse of the two adverbs, Farther and Further. She would very willingly do this blog for me since their misuse produces groans and mutterings questioning the competence of TV reporters, weather men, newscasters, and anyone else making such errors, but I'll try to "do you proud", Mom, and see if we can clear up some of this confusion. English teachers, unite!

Now, read the following sentences and see if you can determine which is the correct usage in each:

(1) How much (farther, further) do we need to go down Madison Street before we see the railroad track?

(2) Floyd told Rachel not to argue any (farther, further)--he would fix some boiled peanuts for her that very evening!

(3) Pat can go (farther, further) on a gallon of gasoline in her tractor than in her Honda.

(4) Walking any (farther, further) down this paved road is liable to put blisters on my bare feet.

(5) The merits of Eastern vs. Western North Carolina barbeque will be debated (farther, further) at our next meeting.

So, how did you do? In sentences 1, 3, and 4, FARTHER is the correct answer. This really won't be a hard one to remember if you just think of the "FAR" in FARTHER--think DISTANCE. When you use FARTHER, you should be referring to physical distance.

Of course, in the other two sentences--2 and 5-- the right answer should be FURTHER. When you use FURTHER, you should be thinking of it as meaning "ADDITIONAL" . FURTHER can also be used to refer to abstract ideas or to indicate a greater extent or degree. If, however, you just keep the "DISTANCE" and "ADDITIONAL"thoughts in mind, you should get along just fine.

I should mention that in spite of these generally (and grammatically correct) accepted explanations, there seems, once again, to the chagrin of grammarians everywhere, to be a trend toward using FURTHER when DISTANCE is implied. Webster's says that this may happen especially when FURTHER means DISTANCE in a spatial, metaphorical, or temporal sense--not in a literal sense. I wouldn't get tangled up in trying to decipher this, though. Just remember that the PREFERRED USE is



I hope this has helped some. Enjoy your week and feel free to make comments! Your ideas are a great help as I decide on topics. Warmest regards from my mom and me. GG

Monday, May 7, 2007

6. The Unnecessary S /'S

Hey, Y'all, and I hope you're all doing well!

Our next lesson deals with a strange little usage seen around these parts I've been asked about several times, so I'll try to offer a little insight.

Why do we hear the letter S/'S added to words sometimes when it isn't necessary? Here are some prime examples:

Shannon is going to Wal-MartS/'S as soon as she finishes her art work. (Wal-Mart is just one store. Even though there are hundreds of Wal-Mart storeS, Shannon is visiting only one of them.)

The drive from Whiteville to DukeS/'S Hospital in Durham took so long that Stephanie was able to read five chapters of her book. (Duke is ONE hospital, so there's no need to put an S on the end.)

The KangarooS/'S gas station on Madison Street had the best gas prices in town last weekend. (Again, even though there are many Kangaroo gas stations, you are speaking of only one of them.)

This problem is likely related to the S or 'S added to many names of businesses: Dale's Seafood, Joe's Barbeque, Smith's Funeral Home, HillS Food Stores, Visionmasters Eye Care Services, etc. As you can see, sometimes just an S is used in the name, and sometimes an 'S is used. This, of course, raises other usage problems having do to with possession and plurals--topics we will take a look at in depth as this blog continues. For right now, though, just try to remember what the proper noun is for the business--does it say Wal-Mart or Wal Marts? The answer should help you determine which use is correct.

Thanks for visiting and have a great week! GG