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.

Beware: This is an AMA-style blog

AMA manual

I’m an editor of medical and pharmaceutical materials. In my industry, the predominant style manual is American Medical Association Manual of Style with the Chicago Manual of Style as a backup. As a result, my writing (and editing) is influenced by the AMA manual. On my blog, you’ll find the following:

  • Lack of punctuation use with certain words (vs, PhD, etc [unless it ends in a sentence])
  • Not defining a person by their condition (cancer patient vs patient with cancer)
  • Use of en dashes when necessary (non–small cell lung cancer)
  • Use of Arabic numerals for 1-9 instead of spelling it out
  • Not using a comma with numerals in the thousands, eg, 1000, 5000, 9999 (ten thousands and on get a comma)
  • Lack of hyphens when using prefixes, such as anti-, co-, over, pre-, post, or under (unless it makes words ambigious or awkward, eg, re-coveranti-abortion

Of course, this is a blog, informal writing, therefore, I’ll deviate from some of those rules at times (healthcare as one word; period after Dr.; a sentence beginning with an Arabic numeral), but for the most part, grammar and punctuation use that seem foreign may actually be intentional.

But all style manuals agree: The word “data” is plural, eg, data are, data were…

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

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?