Sunday, May 13, 2007

7. The FARTHER/FURTHER Facts

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

FARTHER=DISTANCE and

FURTHER=ADDITIONAL.

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

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