Please have a look at this assignment:

"Point out in how far the American Dream has become a nightmare."

It is taken from a German textbook for English learners at an advanced level ("The New Pathway Advanced"- Schöningh p.140):

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For me personally "in how far" sounds totally normal (I'm German). However, a British person told me that it sounds wrong to his ears and that it should be "how far".
So I was wondering whether "in how far" is American and "how far" rather British?
Or let me ask, is there a rule when to use "in how far" and when "how far"?

  • 1
    I agree that the 'in' is unnecessary. However the sentence isn't very good anyway. I suggest changing the author. Oct 27, 2015 at 18:16
  • Describe how these aspects ....
    – Dan
    Oct 27, 2015 at 19:09
  • I am American, and agree that "in how far" is abnormal. Presumably (as noted in an answer) the person who wrote it is German or Dutch.
    – GEdgar
    Jul 22, 2016 at 16:42
  • "Point out to what extent these aspects are represented in film."
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 22, 2016 at 18:59

3 Answers 3


I understand in how far as synonymous to to what extent, as its structure is exactly the same as that of Dutch in hoeverre and German inwieweit (both, literally, 'in how far', meaning 'to what extent'). That's what I make out of it being a native Polish speaker who is familiar with those other two languages. No idea if it's idiomatic in any native variety of English (most Google results for in how far I've found seem to be texts written in English by German native speakers).

  • That seems to be correct. Even worse, there are by now so many occurrences of that phrase that googling it makes people think it's correct. On this popular Ger-Eng site the discussion came up as early as 2005. dict.cc (German) Though even back then a high occurrence by Austrian and German writers was observed.
    – Helmar
    Jul 22, 2016 at 19:02

In how far sounds wrong to me (UK). The 'in' is redundant.

  • I agree (also UK, but I'd be surprised if it were any more acceptable to an articulate AmE speaker). I think there's erroneous conflation with, for example, Point out (specify, identify) in what way these aspects are represented in the film. But the conjunction of opposites out/in just sounds daft to me. Oct 27, 2015 at 17:59
  • Sounds wrong to this Canadian too. Oct 27, 2015 at 18:43

I agree with Grzegorz J. Rybacki. This is meant to express the interrogative form of insofar.

However, the term inhowfar does not exist, and neither does in how far (although maybe it should, but that's another matter). As the comments here show, it’s not clear what textbook it’s taken from nor which speaker it’s written by (whether German or Dutch).

Since insofar means “to such an extent”, the right way to express this without creating a neologism would be to what extent.

  • 1
    A good answer is complete and gives evidence showing why it is correct. Links to external resources are encouraged. An unsupported statement is not useful and may be subject to deletion even if it is correct. For an introduction to the site, take the Tour. For help writing a good answer, see How to Answer.
    – MetaEd
    Jul 22, 2016 at 17:16
  • Just added some information about the book the phrase was taken from and also included a photo.
    – rena
    Jul 22, 2016 at 20:50

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