increase our average life expectancy 'way' beyond...

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kiku_hana

Senior Member
Vietnamese
Hi All,

Here is a context:

Penicillin has already been discovered and used to treat infections; there have been many remarkable advances in medicine that have helped to increase our average life expectancy way beyond that of our ancestors.
(Check your vocabulary for IELTS, Science & Technology)

Can I leave way out of the sentence? I don't see what it is used for.

Thank you
 
  • sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It shows that our life expectancy is much greater than our ancestors' was. If you omit "way", the sentence means that our life expectancy is much greater than our ancestors' was - which is slightly different.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The difference here is the difference between "greater" and "much greater". It's difficult to explain if you don't understand "much greater". Here's an example:

    "22 is greater than 20. 60 is much greater than 20."

    Your sentence means two things:

    1) Our life expectancy exceeds that of our ancestors and 2) the difference in life expectancy is big. If you omit "way", the sentence means 1) but it doesn't mean 2).
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    'Way' in this usage means 'a long way'. It is a slang or colloquial version of 'far'.
    My advice would be: 'always use 'far' instead of 'way' in this sense'.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    It has a common feature of colloquial language, namely imprecision.
    The word 'way' in itself does not say whether it is a short way or a long way.
    'Far' on the other hand is an equally short word and has only one possible meaning.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    In this context, way is equivalent to far.

    way
    informal at or to a considerable distance or extent (used before an adverb or preposition for emphasis). ■ chiefly N. Amer. much.
    ■ US informal really (used for emphasis).

    OED - Much, far. U.S.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    It evidently caused a problem for kiku_hana. Perhaps she understood it as 'in some way'.

    This shows that it takes two steps to get to the meaning. First, understand 'way' to mean distance rather than manner. Second, understand it to mean a long distance rather than a short one.
     
    Last edited:

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In this context, way is equivalent to far.

    way
    informal at or to a considerable distance or extent (used before an adverb or preposition for emphasis). ■ chiefly N. Amer. much.
    ■ US informal really (used for emphasis).

    OED - Much, far. U.S.
    I'm not sure the WR dictionary entry that you quote here is relevant, panj, because we wouldn't say "... have helped to increase our average life expectancy much beyond that of our ancestors", would we?
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Panjandrum has shown, from an authortative source, that this colloquial usage has two related meanings: 'much' and 'far'.
    Giving both makes the information more understandable.
     
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