“Go Further With Ford.” Is Ford grammatically correct?

Monday, July 16, 2012

I don’t think so. Far be it for me to be critical of someone else’s grammar, but here I go anyway.

Lately, Ford has been running commercials and ads that use the slogan, “Go Further With Ford.” Here’s a link to one of their television ads and screenshot of the final frame.

The point of the ad is that Ford cars are better made and more efficient, more stingy in the use of gasoline with the result that you can drive them farther (my word) on a gallon of gas and longer, and therefore farther – There, I said it again. – over the life of the car.

According to “Grammar Girl,” “The quick and dirty tip is to use ‘farther’ for physical distance and ‘further’ for metaphorical, or figurative, distance. It’s easy to remember because ‘farther’ has the word ‘far’ in it, and ‘far’ obviously relates to physical distance.” I don’t know who Grammar Girl is, but her cartoon image seems pleasant enough and I agree with her.

I think Ford blew it, that their slogan should be “Go Farther,” and that I deserve a new Ford Fiesta, red with all the cool stuff, for pointing it out and saving them any further embarrassment. What do you think?

P.S. December 5, 2012. Since I wrote this piece, I’ve heard from Ford. Be sure to read, “‘Go Further With Ford.’ Is Ford grammatically correct? Part 2, The Response.”



30 responses to ““Go Further With Ford.” Is Ford grammatically correct?

  1. Mimzy (Diane)

    You got it exactly right! I am the product of many years in the Catholic school system, and one thing they drilled into us was proper grammar. And I can parse a sentence like nobody else I know! But then, I digress. So, the fact that Grammar Girl confirmed your assessment of the situation should be enough evidence for the ‘BIg Talking Heads’ at Ford, and they should immediately reward you with the Ford Fiesta. Now, let us discuss this matter no further.

  2. Hi, Mimzy. I may be able to one-up you here. I was taught grammar by a Mrs. Campbell, in what they now call “Middle School.” Her technique was “diagramming” and it was extraordinarily effective. If she’s still out there, “Mrs. Campbell, I can’t thank you enough.”

    Feel free to forward the article to Ford’s Chairman and CEO. If they pay attention, we can have shared custody of the Fiesta. Is red okay with you?

    Thanks for stopping by.


  3. Mimzy (Diane)

    I LOVE red! It’s my favorite color! I have a 2011 red Ford Fusion (and it takes me ‘farther’ on a gallon of gas!) and a 1986 red Fiero! And my husband has a 1984 red Mustang convertible and a 1999 red Ford Lightning. Yeah, we both kinda like red! As always, I eagerly look forward to your next post!

  4. Just between you and me, I was a dorky little kid. I know. It’s hard to believe. (Now I’m a larger, dorky adult.) ..a dorky, nearsighted little kid, to be precise, who started wearing glasses when I was just 4 years old. As if the glasses weren’t enough, they were tinted because of some problem I had with glare. With tons of curly dark brown hair, and tinted glasses, I looked like a tiny Bob Dylan.

    Anyway, when I was 11 years old, my parents decided I needed contacts, which were a big deal in those days, to stop my vision from deteriorating any further, so off I went to a doctor’s office in Washington, on “Eye” Street no less. Sitting in his examining chair, he fitted me with a pair of what were then hard contacts. No tint, because they didn’t make them that way.

    Standing up, he walked to his office windows that ran along I St., opened the drapes and invited me to take a look. And I did. At first, I was struck by the sharpness of everything I saw, way better than the glasses I’d been wearing. My face just inches from the window, it was a brilliant, sunny day. And then I turned to my left and saw something. “Hey?!” I asked the doctor and my mother who were standing a few feet behind me. “What that?”

    Looking over my shoulder, it was the doctor who answered. “It’s a Coca-Cola sign.” Of course it was, one of those giant circular ones, on a billboard attached to one of the buildings, the sun making it seem almost as if it was lit from behind.

    “No, no. ..What color is that?” I asked, and wasn’t kidding.

    “Well,” he responded, somewhat surprised by the question, “it’s red.”

    “Wow.” I had no idea.

    For all those years, from when I was 4 until I was 11, putting on my tinted glasses as soon as I got up in the morning, not taking them off until I went to bed, it was the first time I’d ever seen a red like that. And it’s been my favorite color ever since.


  5. This was bothering me so much, glad that I’m not the only word geek out there!

  6. So glad to find this. I KNEW it was wrong. My son said email Ford and I said why waste my time. Sad state when the wrong word is used in a commercial seen by so many people AND children learning English!

    • And you were right! It IS wrong. And I’m still waiting for my red Fiesta, fully-equipped. I’ve volunteered to share it with everyone who has left a comment agreeing with me — a promise I intend to deny ever having made if Ford actually gives me one. But I’ll let you drive it. Occasionally. Sometimes. On your birthday, provided it’s not also a national holiday or on a day when I need to go out for some emergency Ben & Jerry’s. (Never write a reply to a comment when you’re hungry.)

      Maybe they’re thinking of changing the name of the company to “Furd” and this is their way of test marketing the concept. What do you think?

      It does make you wonder. Do they test their, I don’t know, brakes as carefully as they proof their ad copy?

      At leest I feel butter about all the bad grammer an typoes I’ve maid.

      Thanks for stopping by.


  7. This has been bothering me ever since they announced the new C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. The team that created the new slogan deserves to be publicly embarrassed.

    • I’m sure Ford realizes its mistake, has fired its ad agency and that my fully-equipped, electric red Fiesta is in the mail. It’s the least Ford can do as a reward for my having pointed out the problem.

      Poor grammar aside, Ford still deserve huge kudos and our respect for not having needed or taken any stimulus money.

      Thanks for stopping by.


  8. While criticizing other’s grammar in writing, I have always found it especially important to get mine right. Shouldn’t it be, “Far be IT for me?” I figure that it’s just a type-o, and I thought you might want to fix that. 🙂

    As a sort of devil’s advocate, I’d like to point out that perhaps Ford IS speaking of metaphorical distance; going way beyond the literal translation of physical distance. Go further. In the sense of better ecology, state of the art design, technological innovation… even going “further” from a corporate development and team-building mindset. Just my thoughts.

  9. Hi, MarathonMom. You’re absolutely right about the missing “it” and I’ve already fixed it. Thank you for that. Please read all of my stuff the moment I post it. I’m promoting you to “Senior WordFeeder Staff Editor,” effective immediately. It’s a title I don’t hand out casually.

    As for Ford’s intentions, your comment is very poetic, but I think you give the company too much credit, particularly given their emphasis in their ads on mileage.

    By the way, I’m still waiting for my electric red, fully-equipped now 2013 Fiesta. It probably got lost in the mail for lack of sufficient postage. In the meantime, I drive a Subaru.

    Thanks for stopping by.


  10. Farther is distance, further is in addition to…like further your education. Ford is indeed wrong and hearing it is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me, only the chalkboard thing never bothered me.

  11. Hey. Thanks for the comment. Who do you suppose Ford has advising them? Presumably, the ad was the product of the advertising agency (“Team Detroit”?) that has their account. They should know better.

    By the way, I sent this piece to Ford’s marketing department. No response. I’m still waiting for my Fiesta.

    You don’t happen to be a teacher, by any chance? Know any middle school English class that would complain to one of the network anchors? That should do the trick.


  12. It is like fingernails on a chalkboard each time I see or hear the Ford tagline “Go Further”. I also read your 2nd post with their response, and I think they are incorrect. Farther – distance, further – an idea.

    • Hey, Rose. Thanks for the comment. You’re right, of course. Everybody gets it, except Ford. I think it’s time for me to reach out for them again.


  13. Somehow I see a connection here with the basic obtuseness of American car companies but maybe that’s a reach.

    • Hi. Thanks for the comment.

      I’m thinking it’s more a matter of innocent arrogance. They’re Ford, iconic co-founder of American capitalism. A Fortune 500 company. How can their grammar possibly be wrong?

  14. Following is a quotation from William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White’s “The Elements of Style” in reference to words and expressions commonly misused: Farther, further. “The two words are commonly interchanged, but there is a distinction worth observing: farther serves best as a distance word, further as a time or quantity word. You chase a ball farther than the other fellow; you pursue a subject further.”

  15. I guess my comment above will forever be “awaiting moderation”, whatever that connotes. I thought the comment rather relevant to the discussion. Apparently not.

    • My apologies for the slow response. Ford offered me a position as SVP for Grammar and I’ve been busy picking out the furniture for the cushy corner office that came with the job. …What? Have I sold out? Don’t be ridiculous and don’t ask me again. I have nothing farther to say on the matter. -wf

  16. I agree with your assessment but suppose Ford meant go further with their quality of product? Having said that I don’t think their marketing folks knew the difference . Another example if the ” dumbing down ” of our society.

  17. “Further” is the verb (to further one’s aims) and “farther” is the adjective indicative of distance (it was farther to Ann Arbor than it was to Ypsilanti). Each time I hear Ford’s current advertising campaign I think of how ignorant the millennial slackers who wrote the copy are.

  18. I cringe when I hear this ad. My Ford Focus has over 213,000 miles and it has taken me “farther” than any other car I have ever owned, but has not taken me “further”.

    My 1996 Volkwagen Jetta took me “further”, as it was ausgezeichnet, exciting, exhilarating, comfortable to drive short and long distances. Unfortunately, it was power driven into a curb during a violent rainstorm by my son’s best friend, but it was great while it lasted. I suppose if the Ford could take you “further”, but let’s not confuse that with the mileage they will give you.

  19. Thank you for your post, wf. I too cringe whenever I hear this ad. I wonder if Ford’s calculus is to show the ad as a troll so that even people who KNOW better would be piqued (as any ALP). But Ford is indeed wrong – none withstanding their rationalization. To promote such ambiguity smacks of ignorance. Rather than clarify and enlighten, Ford has chosen to muddle, confuse and suppress – which to me translates as NOT GOING FURTHER at all. so sad.

  20. Reading their response, I still think they used the wrong form of the word. Since the commercials implied distance, the proper usage is farther. Essentially, it is a poorly executed advertising campaign. Unless the underlying goal was to have people keep talking about it years after the fact. If the latter, then kudos 🙂

  21. I concur. They are full of shit. they definitely used it incorrectly!

  22. I totally caught this the first time I saw the commercial. Farther equal distance. Further equal quantity. Bad ford. Stupid ford

  23. Pingback: Patriots Thursday Observations, Jets Review – Boston Sports Media Watch

  24. Miller Beer “brewed different” shouldn’t it be brewed differently?

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