Word Wednesday: Further vs Farther

Road

Even though I’m an editor enforcing many grammar rules, I know I don’t know it all.

Case in point: further vs farther.

At a previous job, I allowed the use of “farther” in an ad campaign, thinking it was completely interchangeable with “further.”

Boy, I could not be further mistaken.

The client questioning the wording was a global client, meaning it would’ve been translated into different languages. That was my first real-life introduction into learning that “farther” represents physical distance and “further” means metaphorical distance.

Sally ran farther in the marathon than Sam.

“Don’t dream it; do it. Take your business further.”

Grammar Girl provides a simple trick to remember which ones to use when—”far” refers to physical distance so you’ll always want “farther” when speaking literally.

Nerve-racking (or wait, is it nerve-wracking?)

woman working girl sitting
Photo by Alexander Dummer on Pexels.com

Nerve-racking vs nerve-wracking is a word I have always messed up. I tend to think that it’s spelled nerve-wracking but it’s actually spelled without the “w.” Think about how nerve-racking it is not to use a W.

Grammar Girl also has a great post on differentiating the two:

The “mental torment” meaning of “rack” in “rack your brain” and “nerve-racking” comes from the idea of the physical torment of stretching bodies on the rack. Those are both spelled R-A-C-K.

 

Grammar Girl also notes the using “wrack” is archaic. “Wrack” is a sister of the word “wreck,” which is in relation to ships. So, unless you want to nerve-ship, use nerve-racking.