Grammar check: further or farther – do you get it right?

I recently hesitated when I wrote the phrase “look no further,” referring to a search for Thanksgiving recipes. Was that correct? I thought back to the old rule reminding me that farther meant physical distance and further, well it’s different, but I couldn’t remember exactly why.

Jump to Grammarly, which explains it in detail, yet I’m still a little confused. Here is what seems clear to me about further and farther:

Farther connotes distance, but it can also refer to a more advanced point.

Both further and farther are adverbs, but further can also be a verb, as in, “She furthered her career” as well as an adjective, such as, “pursuing further information.” Still okay, but now things get murky:

Grammarly poses the question, “How do the definitions of farther and further overlap? Can you use further or farther away in the same way?” The answer:

“Some usage guides disagree, but both terms have been used interchangeably to describe physical distance.”

The following examples of confused me even more:

“The further from one another, the nearer one can be.”—August Strindberg, The Road to Damascus

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now . . . Come further up, come further in!” —C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle

I felt a little better after I read further (haha, get it?).

The Chicago Manual of Style defers to Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary, which says:

“Farther and further have been used more or less interchangeably throughout most of their history, but currently they are showing signs of diverging. As adverbs they continue to be used interchangeably whenever spatial, temporal, or metaphorical distance is involved. But where there is no notion of distance, further is used.”

Their final tip is to remember that only further means moreover.

I’m probably going to do what I usually do when I’m unsure of correct usage, which is to rewrite the sentence so I don’t have to deal with it!

Do you have the further/farther rule down? What’s your secret?

By the way, when I ran the Spelling & Grammar check on this post, Microsoft Word gave me a 90%. That’s one of their new, annoying features.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Jackson Browne songs, Farther On.

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Grammar check: inbetween, in between, in-between or just plain between?

On the question of inbetween, in between, in-between or just plain between, which is correct? First off, inbetween is not a word, so let’s throw that in the bad grammar bin right away.

But when/if should you use in between, in-between and between?

Catherine Traffis of Grammarly confirms my first statement and says:

  • In between should always appear as two words. Although inbetween is common, it is a misspelling and does not appear in any English dictionary.
  • Unnecessarily adding in to between is also a common grammatical mistake.
  • As a compound adjective, in-between should be hyphenated.

This Business Writing blog post by James Smith explains further:

  • Inbetween is an improper form of the word and should not appear in writing.
  • In between is generally accepted in speech, but when writing, eliminate “in” and use the more concise “between” instead.
  • In-between is grammatically correct when the word is used as an adjective, indicating an existence between two abstract intermediary stages.

In summary, instead of in between, just say or write between. And when you’re describing the middle part of something, use in-between. Eliminating all use of inbetween is easy to remember and getting rid of the in when you really just mean between is also easy. If you’re still not sure about in-between, here’s an example

My once-short hair is at that awkward in-between stage where it’s both too short and too long!

Make sense?

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Grammar check – bad or badly?

Image: Pixabay

Which sentence do you think is correct, A or B?

A. I feel bad about spilling wine on your rug.
B. I feel badly about spilling wine on your rug.

If you chose B, think again. It’s A. You may believe that bad should get the “ly” treatment. It’s an adverb, right? Well, when you use it descriptively, it should be an adjective. Therefore say, “I feel bad about spilling that red wine all over your expensive white rug!”

Think of it this way.

If you say you feel badly, you’re really saying that
your body is having trouble feeling the things around you
. does a great job explaining this rule in more detail. The trick is to understand how to use these four sense words: taste, look, smell and feel.

Here’s what they say:

When we use these verbs actively, we should follow them with adverbs.

When we use these verbs descriptively, we should follow them with adjectives.


I feel bad about having said that.

I am not feeling with fingers in the above example; I am describing my state of mind, so the adjective is used (no ly).

She feels badly since her fingers were burned.

She feels with her fingers here so the adverb (ly form) is used.

You can check out the rest here on GrammarBook. There’s even a little quiz to help you get the rule right.

And if sometimes you still aren’t sure, do what I do. I always think of this book to get it straight!

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron


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