Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I'm sorry it's been so long since my last post -- I've been locked out of my blog :-( and have just now gotten back in

A question from a follower (thank you, dear!):

"Whenever I type 'children's' with an apostrophe to show possession, my spell check underlines it. When I click it to get the right spelling they only give the word children or other child-words.  So when there is a plural word like children and you wish to show possession like The Children's Library, are we right to add the apostrophe s or not? I'm thinking of men's club or women's society."

You are exactly right.  When s is used with any word that changes its form when plural (children, women, mice, feet) it changes to the possessive form and must be used with an apostrophe: children's, women's, and so on -- even though your spell checker may not like it!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Farther / Further

This is a distinction you may find yourself coming back here to review.

Farther refers to physical distance:  Los Angeles is farther from New York than from Chicago.  I walked farther today than I did yesterday.

Further refers to time, degree or metaphorical distance:  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Let's look into this further. The harder I try, the further behind I seem to get.

The same rules apply to farthest and furthest:  Five miles is the farthest I can run in one session.   That's the furthest thing from my mind.

Occasionally, it isn't quite so easy to decide which word to use:  I read further into my new book today.  Did I get through more pages, so it's a physical distance?  Or did I get further into the story, which is a figurative distance?  The good news is that when the distinction isn't clear, most authorities say it's okay to use either. 

Most of the time, however, you can tell pretty easily if you're writing about an actual distance or not.  You'll sound like a grammar pro if you use these two words correctly!