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My dictionary says far can mean a lot or very much. I have been trying to figure what it would mean if I say:

This word is far common.

To me, far common sounds like the word is far from being common, that is uncommon. But according to the definition from my dictionary, it could be interpreted as the word is very common.

So, what would be the right interpretation? Thanks!

  • It sounds like "very common" to me. – holydragon Jun 11 '18 at 3:10
  • Where did you see "This word is far common"? Please provide a link. Or did you just make it up? It is not a natural English expression. – JavaLatte Jun 11 '18 at 4:39
  • @JavaLatte I made it up actually. I'm just curious since far can be used as an adverb meaning very much, why can it not simply modify an adjective. Maybe, it's just a conventional thing I guess. – dan Jun 11 '18 at 4:49
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According to the Oxford Dictionary, you can use far as an adverb either about distance (meanings 1 and 2), time (meaning 2) or as an adverb of degree (meaning 3), meaning

  1. By a great deal.

With meaning 3, you cannot apply it directly to an adjective in the same way that you can say very good. You can only ever apply to a comparative (the -er version of an adjective), for example:

His new car is far faster than the last one.

If you want to use it with an adjective that you can't make a comparative with, you should use more and the adjective, for example:

This word is far more common.


To answer Dan's comment about the expression "not far wrong", you can also use far to modify adverbs, and the word wrong can be an adverb. The expression was probably initially used in sentences like this:

If you follow my advice, you won't go far wrong.

  • But would you say not far wrong? – dan Jun 11 '18 at 7:48
  • @Dan, I have updated my answer. – JavaLatte Jun 11 '18 at 9:33
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It is not grammatical to say "far common" like this, at least not in any variety of English that I'm aware of. (For reference, I checked both the British National Corpus and the Corpus of Contemporary American English and neither had any hits for "far common" like in your question, matching up nicely with my intuition as a native AmE speaker.)

You could say

The word is by far the most common

This means that the word is more common than others by a big margin.

  • You could also say, "The word is very common." – Readin Jun 11 '18 at 4:31
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Functioning as an adverb, the word far means by a great deal.

He is able to function far better than usual.

or

This word is far common.

Functioning as an adjective, it means situated at a great distance in space or time. So, when you say

The word is far from being common.

you mean the word is not common.

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