To start off this grammar series entry, I’m giving you guys a bit of history on why I am a total grammar dork.
It could be because I’m a journalism major and AP Style has been pounded into my head since my introductory news writing class or the fact that I’m an associate editor for ing Magazine so editing is, you know, what I do. But the fact that I cringed and made this weird croaky sound when I saw a Belle Tire ad use the wrong “everyday” has a far deeper root: my mother.
My mom is a kindergarten teacher, but before that, she taught middle school English. When we were kids and would say silly things that kids do when they’re first learning tenses, my mother would immediately correct us. (Probably because sentences like “I brang my lunch to school today” made her want to rip her ears out.) In fact, my older sister came home crying one day because someone at a friend’s house said “ain’t”—which was next to swearing in the Perry household.
My mom brainwashed us. Grammatically. It’s still happening today: if I make a grammatical mistake and get flustered and say “whatever” when she corrects me, she just stares at me like I’m this alien she doesn’t know what to do with. I’m a grammar nerd, but my mom takes that insanity one step farther (or—is it further?).
Which brings me to my next point: the difference between further and farther.
I once thought that further and farther were interchangeable, like how there are different ways to pronounce “neither.” (N-eeeee-ther and n-eye-ther.) But, lo and behold! There is a difference.
Here’s what the AP Stylebook has to say:
Farther refers to physical distance: He walked farther into the woods.
Further refers to an extension of time or degree: She will look further into the mystery.
This is pretty self-explanatory and doesn’t have any of the mumbo-jumbo AP Stylebook entries can have (example: lay/lie). According to AP Style, then, the correct word in my confused sentence above is further, because we are talking about an increase in degree of sanity.
Side note: I love my momma. Just thought I should throw that out there.