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.

Word Wednesday: Project Semicolon

Something a little different today. Translating grammar into real life.

Project Semicolon is an organization that was founded by Amy Bleuel to raise awareness about the prevention of suicide. Per the foundation:

Our work is based on the foundation and belief that suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide.

Being someone who has dealt with suicidal thoughts and tendencies since I was 12, Project Semicolon is an organization that is near and dear to my heart.

I searched high and low for other black people who had a semicolon tattooed to their wrist but all I found (TBH) were images of no one but white people. So the picture above is of my wrist. It’s in black and white, but it reflects my skin undertone and quite frankly…me.

But why the semicolon? Why not some other form of punctuation?

Project Semicolon’s tagline is “Your story isn’t over yet.” As I have heard it explained, the reason the semicolon was chosen is because, in grammar, it connects two complete thoughts. It’s sort of a blip in the midst of a sentence. It’s not a period that indicates finality (the end of a sentence), and it’s not a comma (just a pause). The thought that comes before a semicolon can stand on its own. It could be the end. But it’s not. There’s more to the story; there’s more to come.

The semicolon (through Project Semicolon) reminds people around the world that whatever they’re going through is merely an interruption. It could be the end of their life story but it doesn’t have to be. I identify with this thought. So many times I have wanted to end my life. But that semicolon reminds me that all of these tough moments are “blips.” My story isn’t over yet. I don’t have to end it.

Word Wednesday

word wednesday

Today’s word is convalesce. (See last week’s definition of sanatorium.)

Convalesce means “to become healthy and strong again after illness or weakness.”

In a sentence, I suppose the appropriate way to use the word would be to say, “After a bout with the flu, I am convalescing.” I don’t even know if that’s the appropriate conjugation OR spelling for the verb.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

Word Wednesday

word wednesday

Today’s word is sanatorium:

1 : an establishment that provides therapy combined with a regimen (as of diet and exercise) for treatment or rehabilitation
2a : an institution for rest and recuperation (as of convalescents)
2b : an establishment for the treatment of the chronically ill

Sanatorium is a noun, but I can’t figure out a way to use it without referring to definition 2b. I guess rehabs are also considered sanatoriums?

Word Wednesday

word wednesday

Today’s word is caprice:

1 a : a sudden, impulsive, and seemingly unmotivated notion or action
1 b : a sudden usually unpredictable condition, change, or series of changes
2 : a disposition to do things impulsively

I have to admit that this word hits home a little bit because I suffer from bipolar disorder. As a result of the illness, I tend to be a bit capricious. I have often been accused (rightly) of being impulsive. I’m working on it, though.

I know, not exactly the word caprice, but it’s a variant form! It counts.

Word Wednesday

word wednesday

My boss has used the word obstreperous several times when referring to one of my employees. Without even knowing what the word actually meant, I could tell (based on my employee’s characteristic) that it meant seriously stubborn.

Merriam-Webster provides 2 definitions for obstreperous:

1 : marked by unruly or aggressive noisiness
2 : stubbornly resistant to control

I’m pretty sure my boss used the second definition of the word for my employee. And the definition is just as I expected. People who are unwilling to yield to authority and relinquish control can be obstreperous.