Farther or Further?

I occasionally overhear people say futher (there’s no such word) when they mean farther. Or perhaps they mean further. Both are adverbs.

When do you use further and when do you use farther? Remember farther (a form of the word far) concerns distance (where). Further pertains to depth or extent (how much).  Examples–

How much farther to the river?

Will a college degree further his career?

The Bike’s named Ralph?

An encore of an earlier post:

A common syntax problem for writers involves misplaced modifiers. MMs can also occur as dangling participles. Either can cause your reader to burst out in laughter even if you aren’t writing a comedy.

Watch for sentences like: Eager to be starting their married life together, the wedding was held at the courthouse. The wedding was eager?

Here’s one from author Elizabeth Sinclair, whose young daughter rushed into the house declaring, “I just saw a deer riding my bicycle!” Her older sister asked, “A deer was riding your bicycle?”

As a child, I puzzled over Davy Crockett and how he “killed him a bear when he was only three.” Was the bear three? If so, how did Davy know his age? If Davy was three, how did he manage to kill the bear?

I’m sure the newscaster wasn’t trying for a chuckle when she said: The police officer arrested the man who had tried to carjack the couple brandishing a weapon. Brave carjacker!

Finally, here is my own example. In reviewing the draft version of Reclaim My Life, my critique partner caught this MM: “Are you familiar with a mentally challenged young man who rides a bike named Ralph?” She wrote in the margin “The bike’s named Ralph?” Too funny. See, the Grammar Cop isn’t perfect, either. Thank God for my critique partner!

To avoid misplaced and misleading modifiers, identify the subject and verb of your sentence. Then be sure your modifier refers back to the subject. If it doesn’t, you need to re-word.


Who’s On First?

Who is on first?

The who’s / whose dilemma is a close cousin to it’s / its. You can avoid mistakes by remembering that possessive pronouns don’t need apostrophes; contractions do.

Who’s is a contraction of who and is, just as it’s is a contraction of it and is. To show the possessive form of a pronoun, you don’t use an apostrophe. You don’t write hi’s for his or her’s for hers, do you? I hope not! So don’t write who’s when you mean whose.

To help you distinguish whose from who’s, memorize this sentence:

Abbott and Costello, whose “who’s on first” routine still makes me laugh, were gifted comics.