Could you help me please?
Is it 'away' optional in the question? If yes, could you tell me the reason?
How far (away) is he from the prison?
He is about ten miles away from the prison.
Thanks in advance
Thank YOU so much for your detailed explanation. If a student asks me that and I give him or her your explanation he will think I'm too good to be true. So for sure I'll tell him it's not mine at all.
What I don't understand in Parser's answer is that he takes a whole numbered paragraph to say how wonderful the answers so far are, before apparently saying that those answers are wrong. Would it not be better to dispense with the disingenuous platitudes -- which must sometimes confuse students -- and to state plainly straight up the belief that our answers are only suitable to the less bright student, ie. that they are essentially wrong?
My concern for the less bright student (and perhaps some teachers) is that they will not have 5jj's perspicacity to be able to see through the smoke and mirrors of the numbered paragraphs and double spacing and the appeals to "some dictionaries" etc. to recognise the absence of the emporer's clothes.
Anyhow, I'm willing to reassert that "away" is optional for even the brightest of your students, learning54, and even for your own personal use.
PS: To argue that "away" is not optional in "How far away is he from the prison?" you'd have to show either that "How far is he from the prison" was ungrammatical, or that it communicated something different from the first sentence (or perhaps that it was simply an unnatural expression).
If the sentences are both grammatical, mean the same thing, and sound natural, then 'away' is optional.
If there is a context in which 'away' makes a difference, then 'away' would not be optional. A more convincing way to argue that 'away' is mandatory is to present such a context. Even so, all this would do is give one context in which 'away' was not optional.