Each day at work, I eat lunch. Or I snack, one of the two. Sometimes both. We have two break rooms at work: the general break room, and the quiet break room. Although the latter is often cooler in temperature and vacant, it’s where I prefer to eat my food and mull over plot details of my short stories or mentally revise my screenplay. This wouldn’t be particularly noteworthy if not for a curious poster on the wall.
When I sit near this poster and read it, I want to smash the glass and twist its metal frame into a pretzel. No, I have nothing against pretzels. They’re pretty tasty. But I do take issue with the stupidity of the poster’s message. Most of all, I take issue with the message’s glaring grammatical error:
“Many people have gone further than they imagined they could because someone else thought they could.”
Did you catch it? Did you catch the mistake? Unless you’re a grammar nut, you probably missed it. “Further.” This is a tricky word because it sounds right, but only to the untrained ear. The correct word is “farther” in this case. Why? Do a simple test. He went far, she went farther, but I went farthest. “Far” is a gradable adjective, meaning it has levels of intensity (but it’s not what grammarians consider an “intensifier”).
Perform the same test with “further.” He went fur, she went further, but I went furthest. Fur? That’s obviously not right.
So when is further appropriate?
- His father said, “Further your education.”
- The further adventures of Superman!
- Further depressed, Hank overdosed on Jell-O shots.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be so picky, but I stare at this “inspirational” poster almost every day. Even if it were grammatically sound, the message is pure hogwash!
By sheer force of thought, I can cause someone to go “further” than they imagined possible? Further in what, life? Their career? On their hang glider? One can only wonder. Perhaps more worrisome: how is that sentiment a suitable blurb for “inspire”?
Used here, inspire is a command. Go forth and inspire others with your positive thoughts! That’s what it implies, but is that its intention? Who knows. Who cares? I do, evidently.
I can give this poster one compliment: it inspired me to write this blog.