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Near - Far

Near - Far

 

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Near and Far


Hello! In this lesson, we will learn to use the words "near" and "far". These versatile words are used as adverbs, adjectives, and prepositions. Regardless of their function in a sentence, the basic meaning of the word "near" is:a short distance, and the basic meaning of the word "far" is a long distance.

The words "near" and "far" , like other adverbs, adjectives, and prepositions, can be used in their concrete, physical senses, and also in more abstract senses. For example, using the word "near" in its concrete sense, we can say "David and Jennifer live near the museum.".

Using the word "near" in its more abstract sense, we can say "James is happy because summer vacation is near." Using the word "far" in its concrete sense, we can say "David's office is far from the apartment.".

Using the word "far" in its more abstract sense, we can say "Jennifer is far from finishing her work today.". In another abstract sense of the word "far", we can say "Jennifer needs far more time to complete her work today.". In this sense, the word "far" means: much.

Sometimes we use the compound word "nearby" to mean: not far off, or a short distance away. We could say, for example, "Jennifer and David like their apartment because the grocery store is nearby.". We could say "David and Jennifer like to visit the nearby park on sunny days.".

Sometimes we use the expression "far away" to mean: distant. We could say "Jennifer and David rarely go to Minnesota because it is far away.". We sometimes use the compound adjective to indicate the same meaning. For example we could say "David looked at the faraway highway through his binoculars.".

The comparative form of the word "near" is "nearer". We can say "Jennifer made the call because she was sitting nearer to the phone than David was.".

There are two comparative forms of the word "far". Experts in English argue among themselves about differences in the usages of the two words. However, you will never make a mistake if you use the word "farther" for the concrete meaning of: (distant in physical space) and the word "further" for more abstract meanings. For example, when we use the concrete meaning, we can say "The school is farther from our house than the museum is.". When we use the more abstract meaning, we can say "We will talk further about the problem tomorrow.".

Now that we have an idea of how to use the words "near, nearer, far, farther", and "further", let us listen to this dialog. David and Jennifer are on the road to St. Paul, Minnesota.

Jennifer: How far is St. Paul from here?

David: Not much farther – about 60 miles.

Jennifer: Can we stop somewhere nearby?

David: Near here? Why?

Jennifer: I want to stretch my legs and get something to drink.

David: We can stop at a rest stop.

Jennifer: (looking at map) There is a rest stop not too far from here.

David: This will be our third stop, Jennifer …

Jennifer: … in ten hours, David!

Jennifer begins this conversation by asking "How far is St. Paul from here?". Jennifer is asking how far they still have to drive to St. Paul, Minnesota. She could have asked "How far is it to St. Paul?" or "How far away is St. Paul?".

David answers "Not much farther – about 60 miles.". In the U.S., 60 miles (about 100 km.) is not a long distance in the grand scheme of things, but it is still about a 45-55 -minute drive at 65-70 miles per hour. While David might think of 60 miles as "not much farther", Jennifer is ready to get out of the car and stretch her legs. David could also have said "Not very far – about 60 miles." or "Not too far – about 60 miles.".

Jennifer does not want to wait so she asks, "Can we stop somewhere nearby?". She could have asked "Can we stop somewhere near here?" or "Can we stop soon?".

David asks "Near here? Why?". He could have asked "Do you want to stop somewhere near here? Why?" or "Why do you want to stop somewhere nearby?".

Jennifer responds "I want to stretch my legs and get something to drink.". She could have said "I want to stretch my legs and have something to drink." or "I want to stretch my legs and drink something.".

David says "We can stop at a rest stop.". The interstate highway system is furnished with "rest stops" which have bathroom facilities, food and beverage vending, and pay telephones. There are often picnic areas and places to walk pets. Sometimes there are gas stations and restaurants in the vicinity.

Jennifer looks and the map and discovers that there is a rest stop nearby. She says "There is a rest stop not too far from here.". She could have said 'There is a rest stop not very far from here." or "We are not far from a rest stop.". The expression "not far" is very common as a way to express: (translate not far) or fairly near.

David does not like to stop often on the road. He reminds Jennifer that this is their third stop. He says "This is our third stop, Jennifer …" He could have said "This is the third time we have stopped.".

But Jennifer has completely different feelings about this upcoming rest stop. Although they will have stopped three times, Jennifer reminds David that they have been traveling for a long time! She adds "… in ten hours, David!".

Jennifer is tired, but we are wide awake and ready to listen to the dialog again. Listen for the various usages of "near, nearby, far", and "farther".

Jennifer: How far is St. Paul from here?

David: Not much farther – about 60 miles.

Jennifer: Can we stop somewhere nearby?

David: Near here? Why?

Jennifer: I want to stretch my legs and get something to drink.

David: We can stop at a rest stop.

Jennifer: (looking at map) There is a rest stop not too far from here.

David: This will be our third stop, Jennifer …

Jennifer: … in ten hours, David!

Terrific! You have learned the various uses of "near" and "far". "Speak English with people near you!".