Friday, July 16, 2010

What Do You Mean I'm Not the Fairest?

A while ago, someone (okay…my therapist) asked me, “Don’t you like it when people tell you that they think that you have the potential to do a better job at something?”

I thought about her question, and then I answered her honestly (because it‘s therapy and I’d be wasting my money if I lied),“No, I like it when people tell me I’m doing a great job.”

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate and understand the value of constructive criticism, but I do LOVE compliments. I love when people tell me I look cute. I love when my students tell me I am their favorite teacher. I'm even willing to delude myself into thinking that the salesperson who works on commission honestly thinks the outfit looks "amazing" on me.

So, it made my day yesterday when the man behind me in line at the coffee shop said to me, “That’s a great dress. Do you work in the fashion industry?”

Now, he may say that to all the girls, but the dress was particularly cute, so I indulged the conversation and said, “Well, kind of. I work at a fashion college, but I teach English.”

Usually, when I tell people I teach English at a fashion college, they say, “Why do fashion students need to take English?” And then I have to explain that it’s an accredited college, so the students have to take their general education classes, such as English Composition.

But, not the guy at the coffee shop with the great sense of style. He went straight into matters of English: “I’ve noticed,” he said, “that on television shows they often mix up further and farther.”
I agreed and then put in my grammar two cents, “And I’ve noticed they tend to incorrectly use lay instead of lie.”

How's that for a great start to a day? A compliment and a grammar conversation- and I still had coffee to look forward to.

So, in honor of my grammar and fashion conscious friend, and because I’ve already covered lay and lie here, allow me to present the difference between further and farther.

The difference between further and farther is not what I used to think it was: that further is simply a fancier, more sophisticated form of farther.

We use farther when referring to actual distance:

That coffee shop is farther from my house than the other one, but the compliments make up for the miles.

And we use further when referring to a greater degree:

Please expand further on what you like about my outfit.

It's pretty easy to remember because farther has the word far in it, which refers to physical distance. It also has the word father in it, and when I was little, every time we would go somewhere, I would ask my father, “How much farther?”

So, what did you think about my post? Did you really, really, really like it?


Cruella Collett said...

I really, really, really did! And that guy sounds like he was more than "all talk", so I'm going to guess he doesn't say that to everyone. After all, he couldn't follow up with grammar talks to just anyone, now could he? ;)

The Invisible Seductress said...

Yes I did!!! But I always do!!

j.m. neeb said...

M.P., I am always a huge fan of your posts! (Actually, I think I mentioned as much in my second-most-recent post over at the Ducks.)

This is based solely off your blog -- Well, what else could I possibly base this on? -- but I'd bet you are the favorite teacher for a lot of students. You seem like you'd be "the cool one." :)

j.m. neeb said...

Uh, just thought I should clarify that I mentioned it in the post before "Of Monkeys and Men." (Can't remember the title, though.)

WalksLikeAnEgyptian said...

"Please expand further on what you like about my outfit."

Hahahaha! I love your blog!! I read it on my lunch breaks. :)

I noticed you're getting more followers. Nice!

Janet Johnson said...

I LOVE your post. The best I've ever heard on the subject. I go further, but then it wouldn't sound as sincere. ;)

Invisible Work said...

Sometimes I think I write that I love your work too much. I'm going to scale back on the compliments. In reality, I can't help myself when it comes to my love of your writing; it's just so good! (And I'm still afraid that I am writing something that all the grammar mavens will laugh at when reading). K

Wendy Ramer said...

I really liked it. Furthermore :-), it's a personal issue of mine b/c admittedly, I only properly learned the difference recently. As a language professor, I was ashamed of myself that it had taken so long, yet grateful that I didn't have to go farther in my career without that knowledge.

Rick said...

You rule Jenny! You're my favorite teacher! You've taught me a ton of cool grammar (and fashion tips). Before this blog, I was a moron in un-hip clothes. Now I'm wearing high-waisted pants and speak gooder than everybody!
Farthermore, I know you would say that guy in the coffee shop was just being friendly; but, I know how guys think, he was probably trying to get lied.

Logical Libby said...

I LOVED it! Not only was it insightful, but you look like you've lost weight.

James Garcia Jr said...

Logical Libby slayed me with her comment! I was thinking of something equally as amusing, but raised my hands in surrender with that! In truth, I'm terrible with rules, etc. Somehow I seem to be able to write properly, but Lord knows how, because I am at a loss to explain to others. I give thanks for this blog! Keep up the good work.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Again, good humor. Fashion, grammar convo, AND coffee. What could be better?

Missed Periods said...

Thank you to everyone for feeding my ego. Have a lovely weekend.


Yes, I really, really, really liked it.
X Sally Fields

pal shazar said...

once kep and i were sitting with out 'farther' and i called him 'pop.' kep and i never laughed so hard.

Sadako said...

Sounds like a serious awesome conversation.

My pet peeve? Would have when you mean to say had. Like, when people say, "If I would have studied for that test, I would have passed it." NO! IF I HAD! It grates!

jennysanchez said...

This was great! Made me crack up. Also, I totally love that moment in Dead Poets' society. I told my students about it one day, and some started calling me captain but a) quite sure if I detected some sarcasm in their voices and b) I think some were hoping for extra credit.
Anyway, great post.

Cashon&Co said...

This was great. I remember growing up my neighbors down the street always played the "got" game. We were never allowed to say "got" .... Always had to say "have" instead. "I got some toys" had to be "I have some toys"...... But we were of course allowed to say "I'm fixin to have lunch"..... Being from Texas, I guess the word "fixin" works in all ways....