Phrases that use similar words can be pretty confusing, especially when we find them in very different places. Phrases like by far, as far as, and (in) so far as may look similar, but all of them are used for specific purposes. Keep reading to find out.
By far is actually an idiom that means “by a large amount” or “to an extreme or obvious degree.” It is used to compare something of the same kind to emphasize a difference. This idiom is also similar to “far and away.”
Here are some examples on how to use it.
The phrases as far as and (in) so far as have similar meanings, which is “to the extent that.” The differences between these two expressions are in usage.
As far as is used a lot more, so it’s a lot more prominent in casual and informal conversations. Moreover, it usually appears at the beginning of the sentence. It is also used to express distance, opinion, and limit of knowledge.
So far as, however, is the opposite. It is used a lot less in informal conversation, and it is more proper to use in formal communications. The phrase also appears near the end of the sentence. Sometimes, the phrase insofar as is used in its place.
So to summarize, by far means “a large amount,” and both as far as and so far as mean “to a certain extent.” It’s a lot to remember but easy to recall once you get the hang of it.
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