Monday, August 15, 2011

Wrong Word Usage - Part 2

Today is the second in a series of lessons on correct word usage. I’ll post one lesson a week. The words we’re going to look at today are: farther/further, beside/besides, breach/breech, coma/comma, and bare/bear. Do you know how to correctly use these words? Let’s see…

Farther/Further: While some people are perfectly fine with these two words used interchangeably, others don’t agree. The Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition) uses the traditional distinction in that “farther” denotes a physical distance and “further” is used for a figurative distance. “She drove farther and farther away.” “Look no further.”

Beside/Besides: “Besides” means “in addition to.” “Besides the entire peach pie that was cooling on the table, Jerry’s dog ate his homework, too.” “Beside” means “next to.” “I sat beside Tommy in English class today.”

Breach/Breech: “Breach” means something broken off or open. For example, “to breach a contract is to break a contract” or “to breach a damn is to break through the damn.” Here’s a trick to remembering which “breach/breech” to use. If you can substitute the “ch” for a “k” and it spells “break”, then you know it means “to break something.” “Breech” refers to a bum. For example, “a breech birth means the baby is coming out bum or feet first instead of head first.”

Coma/Comma: “Coma” means someone is in a long-term unconscious state. “Comma” is a punctuation mark.

Bare/Bear: Most people know that “bear” is the furry creature you’d prefer to admire from afar. However, there is another use for “bear”. “Mothers bear children.” “Students bear the responsibility of earning good grades.” In other words, “bear” can mean “carry.” “Bear” can also mean “support the weight of”, “to have as a characteristic”, and “to allow.” “Bare” means “naked.” So, when someone asks you to bear with them, they’re asking you to have patience, but if someone wants you to bare with them, they’re asking you to undress.

As you can see using words incorrectly can get you into trouble, especially if you mix up “bare” and “bear”. Have any of these given you grief in the past?

Lynnette Labelle


  1. I always have to be very mindful of "farther/further." I know I say them often interchangeably, but in writing, I have to stop and think of which one to use almost every time.

  2. Like Cherie, I have troubles with farther and further. I try saying them out loud, but that doesn't help much!