Mixups unmixed: ‘Farther’ from Reality or ‘Further’ from Truth?

Hello, hello! Welcome back to your favorite word workout – “Mixups Unmixed!”

Every month, I bring you a new set of word pairs that scientists tend to mix up. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to identify the correct use of these words.

Shall we start?

1. Farther vs. Further

I always struggle to distinguish these two words. What about you?

Quiz: Which sentence is correct?

  • a) “The comet traveled farther than expected.”
  • b) “The comet traveled further than expected.”

‘Farther’ typically refers to physical distance. For example: “The satellite orbited farther from Earth than the previous one.”

‘Further’ is used for metaphorical or figurative distance or to mean ‘additional.’ For instance: “Further research is required to understand the anomaly.”

Now, what do you think is the correct response to the quiz? (You’ll find the correct response at the end of the post).

2. Many vs. Much vs. A lot

Navigating the quantities in scientific writing can be tricky. Which one fits best?

Quiz: Which sentence is correct?

  • a) “Many data points support this theory.”
  • b) “Much data points support this theory.”
  • c) “A lot of data points support this theory.”

‘Many’ is used with countable nouns. For example: “Many studies have been conducted on this topic.”

‘Much’ is used with uncountable nouns. For instance: “Much research has been done in this field.”

‘A lot of’ can be used colloquially with both countable and uncountable nouns, but it is generally more informal and not suitable for a scientific paper. For example: “There’s a lot of evidence supporting the theory of climate change.”

Now, what do you think is the correct response to the quiz? (You’ll find the correct response at the end of the post).

3. Consecutive vs. Subsequent

Quiz: Which sentence is correct?

  • a) “The experiments were conducted on three consecutive days.”
  • b) “The experiments were conducted on three subsequent days.”

‘Consecutive’ means following continuously. For example: “The scientist won the award for two consecutive years.”

‘Subsequent’ means following in time, order, or place. For instance: “Subsequent studies showed different results.”

Now, what do you think is the correct response to the quiz? (You’ll find the correct response at the end of the post).

4. Illicit vs. Elicit

Quiz: Which sentence is correct?

  • a) “The drug can illicit severe side effects.”
  • b) “The drug can elicit severe side effects.”

‘Illicit’ means not legally permitted. For instance: “The illicit version of fentanyl is manufactured and distributed outside legal pharmaceutical channels and often mixed with heroin or cocaine to increase its euphoric effects.”

Elicit’ means to provoke a response, reaction, or fact. Example: “The new treatment elicited a positive response from patients.”

Now, what do you think is the correct response to the quiz? (You’ll find the correct response at the end of the post).

5. Hypothesis vs. Hypothesize

Time for the grand finale!

Quiz: Which sentence is correct?

  • a) “In this article, we propose a new hypothesis about cell behavior.”
  • b) “In this article, we propose a new hypothesize about cell behavior.”

‘Hypothesis’ is a noun, meaning a proposed explanation. Example: “The researcher’s hypothesis was confirmed by the experiment.”

‘Hypothesize’ is a verb that means to form a hypothesis. In American English, the spelling typically ends with “-ize” (i.e., “hypothesize”), while in British English, it ends with “-ise” (i.e., “hypothesise”). For instance: “The scientists hypothesize (hypothesise) that the treatment will be effective.”

Now, what do you think is the correct response to the quiz? (You’ll find the correct response at the end of the post).

The Solutions!

Ready to see how you did? Here are the answers:

Quiz 1: Farther vs. Further

  • a) “The comet traveled farther than expected.”
  • b) “The comet traveled further than expected.”

The correct sentence is a. ‘Farther’ is used for physical distance, which is appropriate when talking about the travel of a comet.

Quiz 2: Many vs. Much vs. A lot

  • a) “Many data points support this theory.”
  • b) “Much data points support this theory.”
  • c) “A lot of data points support this theory.”

The correct sentence is a. ‘Many’ is used with countable nouns, and in this context, ‘data points’ are individual units that can be counted, making ‘many’ the appropriate choice.

Quiz 3: Consecutive vs. Subsequent

  • a) “The experiments were conducted on three consecutive days.”
  • b) “The experiments were conducted on three subsequent days.”

The correct sentence is a. ‘Consecutive’ means one after the other without interruption, which fits the context of experiments conducted on three sequential days.

Quiz 4: Elicit vs. Illicit

  • a) “The drug can illicit severe side effects.”
  • b) “The drug can elicit severe side effects.”

The correct sentence is b. ‘Elicit’ means to bring out or evoke, which is appropriate for describing the drug bringing about severe side effects.

Quiz 5: Hypothesis vs. Hypothesize

  • a) “In this article, we propose a new hypothesis about cell behavior.”
  • b) “In this article, we propose a new hypothesize about cell behavior.”

The correct sentence is a. ‘Hypothesis’ is a noun correctly used here to refer to the scientist’s proposed explanation or theory about cell behavior.

Enjoyed this word expedition? Check previous Mixups (here, here, and here), and stay tuned for more wordy adventures next month!

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