Make Your Editor Cry: As Far As I’m concerned

Make Your Editor Cry:  As Far As I’m concerned

As far as this phrase is concerned, I’ll start off by saying I’m concerned.

The phrase “as far as” can act as either a preposition or a conjunction. When it’s a preposition you might find it in sentences like this.

Examples:

As far as possible I try to avoid talking with my
parents because they tend to make a mountain of a mole hill in
every situation.

The late, great Reverend Billy Graham often used “as far as” like a preposition in his sermons. Webster even quotes him in their definition of the phrase with this snippet, “…as far as being mentioned in the Ten Commandments, I think it is….” While I personally find these examples a little awkward for narrative text, I can see how they could lend some interesting characterization inside of dialogue tags.

When the phrase is used as a conjunction, it sometimes acts as a coordinating conjunction and nearly always appears at the beginning of a sentence and brackets a noun or nouns (where the noun[s] can be just about anything), followed by a “to be” verb sandwiched some form of the word concern.

So, the phrase structure looks like this: “As far as [noun(s)] [“to be” verb] concern(-ed -s -ing),” followed by a thusly qualified opinion, pronouncement, or quip which is typically a clause that depends on the noun.

It is similar to the phrase “As for,” in this way. The difference is you drop the “[to be] concern(-ed -s -ing)” part of the phrase so that the phrase structure looks like this: “As for [noun(s)],” followed by a thusly qualified expression which is typically a clause that depends on the noun.

Examples:

As far as money is concerned, I don’t have any.

As for money, I don’t have any.

As far as lawyers and capital punishment are
concerned, I have to say I'm in favor.

As for lawyers and capital punishment, I have to say
I'm in favor.

With uses of the phrase “as far as,” I’ve observed a recent trend toward dropping the “[to be] concern(-ed -s -ing)” part of the phrase. Maybe this came about based on the structure of the “As for” phrase. Maybe because when “as far as” is used as a preposition, there is never a “[to be] concern(-ed -s -ing)” part of the phrase in sight. I don’t know. But I know this. Whenever you lose those trailing two words that follow the noun in this prepositional phrase, you end up with some ham-handed prose.

Examples:

Correct:

As far as you are concerned, this job is over.

As far as music is concerned, I especially love
Christian contemporary.

As far as the idea is concerned, it's a mistake to
dismiss it so quickly.

We felt pretty safe as far as the fire was
concerned. (Mark Twain)

Incorrect:

As far as you, this job is over.

As far as music, I especially love Christian
contemporary.

As far as the idea, it's a mistake to dismiss it so
quickly.

We felt pretty safe as far as the fire.

Now you can see why I’m concerned. You should also be concerned—concerned enough to write the phrase correctly, I hope.

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