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I had to get off the bus 5 miles from where I was supposed to.

I had to get off the bus 5 miles away from where I was supposed to.

Here, do both the sentences mean the same? Does away hold any real significance here?

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Other than contributing a slightly greater emphasis on the distance, the meaning here is generally the same. Both usages are interchangeable, with the possible exception of "away" being used in some cases to denote that the overall direction of travel to a midpoint (B) would put you further from the destination (C) than your point of origin:

We could head to the pharmacy in Anytown, but that would put us thirty miles away from our destination.

In speech, the presence of "away" (along with contrarian "but that" as opposed to "which") would seem to indicate that the direction traveled from point A to point B is unfavorable to the direction traveled toward the final destination (C), especially if you place a verbal emphasis on the word "away" when speaking.

However, there are a few other ways to convey this:

  • We could head to the pharmacy in Anytown, but that would put us thirty miles from our destination in the opposite direction.

  • We could head to the pharmacy in Anytown, but that would put us fifteen miles further away from our destination.

These are slightly less ambiguous ways to convey that a course of action is counterproductive to the direction of travel.

(Side note: Replacing "but that" with "which" in the final two examples above would also be grammatically correct, but it would change the meaning of the sentence to suggest that moving in a direction further away from your destination would be a favorable course of action, which would seem illogical.)

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