Further versus farther

So is there any difference between the words “farther” and “further?” It seems like people use them interchangeably all the time, but is this correct? I get questions about these two words just about every week, and they can be tricky—after all, they’re only one letter a part from each other. In this post I want to go over the differences between these two words, how they work, and some ways to tell them a part.

After reading this post, you shouldn’t ever mix up farther vs. further again.

When to Use Farther

Further Versus Farther

  • She walked farther north along the trail.
  • My house is a few blocks farther down the road.
  • I swam farther than all the others.

When to Use Further

Further Versus Farther

  • Nothing could be further from the truth.
  • In order to further myself, I need to receive more schooling.
  • The defendant asked for further consideration.

You can apply this same rule to the words farthest and furthest.

Further, along with its variant furthermore, can also be used as a sentence modifier to introduce a new statement that relates to a previous point. For example,

  • Further, I see no absolutely no reason why we should not adopt this policy.

As you can see, further is the more versatile of the two words because it has multiple different senses in which it can be used. Farther has the restriction of physical space, so when in doubt, using further is the safe bet.

Problem Sentences

Even though the distinction between these two words seems pretty straightforward, sometimes it can be tricky to pick out which word you ought to use in a sentence. For example, consider the following examples,

  • I am much further in my book than you.

Should this sentence use further or farther? You could make the case for both. For instance, I could be saying that I am further along in the metaphorical storyline of the book than you are. I could, however, also be saying that I am farther through the physical number of pages in the book than you are.

Here’s another example,

  • You went much further than I thought you would.

This is where context is so important, because this sentence could be saying one of two things. It could be saying that you reached a new level that is beyond (further) where I thought you would go. Or it could be saying that you went a longer distance than I thought you would go—consider the number of laps around a track.

In order to know which word to use, the context around the sentence make a big difference.

Practice Quiz and Examples

  1. Today, I ran ______ than ever before.
  2. We’re expecting _____ delays on today’s flight.
  3. The dictator moved the country even ______ from a democracy.
  4. There is a small town on the ______ side of the mountain.

Display the answers below.

History and Usage

Believe of not, the distinction between further vs. farther did not always exist. That’s right; for most of their history in fact, they were used interchangeably. It hasn’t been until the last 100 years or so that they started to diverge from each other.

Some people still use the words interchangeably and dismiss the distinction altogether, but those numbers are decreasing year by year. The Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook both recommend following the usage rule, and if you want to remain precise in the meaning of your writings, it’s probably best to keep the distinction.

Summary

Is it farther or further? Of course, this depends on the context of your sentence.

Farther is used for physical and measurable distances.

Further is used for figurative distances or metaphorical advancement.

This rule also applies to farthest and furthest.

Answers

  1. Farther
  2. Further
  3. Further
  4. Farther

Further vs. Farther – How to Use Each Correctly

Further Versus Farther

What is the Difference Between Farther and Further?

Farther and further are two words with similar pronunciations and definitions. In fact, the two words are so closely related that some grammar books treat them as synonyms. However, to ensure the highest level of clarity in your writing, it is best to understand the distinction between them.

Farther relates to physical distance. It can act as either an adverb or an adjective in comparisons about how far one thing is from another.

  • The train station is farther from my house than the airport.
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Further relates to figurative, metaphorical, or abstract distances, as in the meaning of furthermore.

  • We can’t discuss this topic any further because it is making me uncomfortable.

Now, let’s look at the specific ways to use these words, as well as how to avoid common mistakes.

Using Farther in a Sentence

When to use farther: Farther can be either an adverb or an adjective. It relates to the concept of more physical distance.

For example,

  • Alaska is farther from Nebraska than Iowa.
  • You should drive instead of walk. It’s farther away than you think.

There are times when it is unclear if the distance in a sentence is physical or abstract. In these cases, either farther or further is acceptable.

Using Further in a Sentence

When to use further: Further also functions an adverb or an adjective. Sometimes, it can even appear as a verb.

  • As an adverb or adjective it relates to metaphorical or abstract distance.
  • As a verb, it means to promote a cause.
  • For example,
  • I can go no further down this path of evil! (first definition)
  • You will be receiving a reward for furthering our cause. (second definition)

There are a couple of expressions that use further:

  • without further ado: to share very personal information with someone
    • I thought he had no feelings, but he bared his soul to me last night. If anything he feels too much!
  • to not see further than the end of one’s nose: to not be able to think beyond one’s immediate situation or needs
    • If she could only think about the long term effects of smoking, I know she would quit. Unfortunately, she can’t see further than the end of her nose.

The second expression listed above sometimes appears as see past the end of one’s nose, see beyond the end of one’s nose, or see farther than the end of one’s nose.

Remembering Farther vs. Further

It is possible to use the spelling of these words to remember the meanings.

For example, farther is spelled with far. This clearly shows the direct relationship it has with the word far in the sense of physical distance.

All of the letters in the word further appear in furthermore. This can help you remember that further means for more information, or to a greater extent, in the abstract sense of distance.

Outside Examples

  • “Right now I’m farther along than I was in the spring, but I’m not where I need to be,’’ he said. “That’s what training camp is for.’’ –New York Post
  • Farther along, I popped into Twisted Oak for a whimsical pairing of Zinfandel and sculpture. –LA Times
  • That the USOC and World Taekwondo did not know Lopez was suspended raises further questions about USA Taekwondo’s diligence in its handling of sexual misconduct complaints. –USA Today
  • Denver law further grants the Auditor’s Office access to city records, officers, employees and property to perform audit duties. –Denver Post

Quiz: Further vs. Farther

Instructions: Fill in the blank with the correct word, either further or farther, in the correct form.

  • Walk no _______________ or we’ll shoot!
  • The ______________ we discuss this situation the more I feel that you are right.
  • Grassroots organizations can help to _________________ environmental causes quite effectively.

See answers below.

Article Summary

Should I use farther or further? These two words sound similar, and have closely related meanings. However, there is an important distinction between the two that you shouldn’t ignore.

  • Farther should refer only to physical distance.
  • Further should refer only to figurative distance.

Make sure you are aware of this difference when choosing which of these words to use.

Quiz Answers

Further vs. Farther

Although they are often used interchangeably, “further” and “farther” don't have exactly the same meaning. Basically, “farther” refers to actual distances between objects while further refers to figurative distances or something that is additional or more. Here are some easy-to-understand definitions and examples of how to use the two words.

Farther refers to a greater physical distance, a distance that has been measured.

See also:  Transitive and intransitive verbs

Examples of Farther

When used as an adjective, “farther” describes when one object is more distant than the other, requiring a measurement of the distance from one common point to both objects.

  • The red car is farther away than the blue car.
  • The raft carried the family farther north than they had planned.
  • The ice cream shop at the farther end of the boardwalk is cheaper.

When used as an adverb, “farther” indicates an action that results in a greater distance.

  • The red car was driven farther than the blue car.
  • Looking up, she realized she had swam farther than she'd thought.
  • They couldn't walk any farther that day.

Further is defined as something that is additional or more, as well as referring to distance. It is used when there is no knowledge of the actual physical or time difference.

Examples of Further

When used as an adverb, “further” expresses a relationship to a place or time, something additional or to a greater degree.

  • I have much further to go before I can stop for the night.
  • We need to research further into this matter.
  • He was further annoyed by a second interruption.

When used as an adjective, “further” describes a distance or something that is beyond or additional. It can also refer to something that is greater in degree or amount.

  • The council gave no further details on the new development.
  • The further field is where we'll put the new horses.
  • Joe could tolerate no further indiscretions.

When functioning as a verb, “further” refers to an action of helping something move forward, usually in a symbolic rather than a literal sense.

  • I need to take that extra course to further my education.
  • How can we use social media to further the brand?
  • To further their cause, they created an online petition.

Quick Usage Trick

One of our YourDictionary readers shared a great way to help you use “further” and “farther” correctly:

“If you can't replace “further” with “additional” or “more” in a sentence, you are probably using it incorrectly.”

So, remember, you need to measure to use “farther,” but you can use “further” in almost all other situations. However, if there is some confusion between it being a physical or figurative distance, it is now considered fine to use either word.

Ready to tackle some other potentially challenging word pairs? Learn the difference between affect and effect. Or do you understand the difference between an abbreviation and an acronym? Study up and you'll further your command of the English language.

"Further" Versus "Farther"

Today's topic is “further” versus “farther.”

Almost every week someone asks me to explain the difference between “further” and “farther.

”  I know you are all looking up “further vs farther,” and when I was on the Oprah Winfrey Show, a production assistant grabbed me backstage while my head was still spinning and begged me to give her a way to remember which word to use. So today, I'll try to help you with this continuing conundrum.

The quick and dirty tip is to use “farther” for physical distance and “further” for metaphorical, or figurative, distance. It's easy to remember because “farther” has the word “far” in it, and “far” obviously relates to physical distance. These examples will help:

Imagine Squiggly and Aardvark are flying to a galaxy far, far away, but Squiggly gets bored and starts mercilessly bugging Aardvark. “How much farther?'” he keeps asking in despair.

Did you hear that? Squiggly used “farther” because he was asking about physical distance.

If Aardvark gets frustrated with Squiggly, which he surely will, he could respond, “If you complain further, I'm going to shoot you out the airlock.”

Aardvark used “further” because he isn't talking about physical distance. He's talking about a figurative distance: the extent of Squiggly's complaining.

More “Further” Versus “Farther” Tips

If you can't decide which one to use, you're safer using further because farther has some restrictions.

Sometimes the quick and dirty tip doesn't work because it's hard to decide whether you're talking about physical distance. For example, Lisa asked about the sentence “I'm further along in my book than you are in yours.” You could think of it as a physical distance through the pages and use “farther,” or as a figurative distance through the story and use “further.”

See also:  Is it "which" or "that"?

And what if you stop someone in the middle of a sentence to interject something? Do you say “before we go any further,” or “before we go any farther”?

The good news is that in ambiguous cases it doesn't matter which word you choose.

Although careful writers will try to stick with the distinction between “further” and “farther,” the Oxford English Dictionary, Fowler's Modern English Usage, and a number of other sources say that, in most cases, it's fine to use “further” and “farther” interchangeably, especially when the distinction isn't clear. People have been using them interchangeably for hundreds of years, and a few experts don't even follow the distinction.

It's also different in British English. For example, Garner's Modern English Usage notes that the British use both “further” and “farther” for physical distance. (1)

How to Use “Furthermore”

It is important to remember that “farther” has a tie to physical distance and can't be used to mean “moreover” or “in addition.”

Farther vs. Further: Do You Know The Difference?

Do you use farther and further interchangeably? You’re not alone. The terms have very similar meanings, and English speakers have been using them as synonyms for centuries. But if you’re ready to get picky, there is one major difference that can guide your usage of these words!

The widely accepted rule is to use farther when being literal and discussing a physical distance, as in “He went farther down the road.” Further is used when discussing a more symbolic distance or to discuss a degree or extent, as in “I wanted to discuss it further, but we didn’t have time.”

Additionally, when used as a verb,  further means to advance. So, you can “further a project” (but you can’t farther a project, because farther doesn’t have a verb sense). Further also has an adverbial definition of “moreover; additionally,” so you can say “And further, you hurt my feelings” (but not farther).

Ready to put your newfound word skills to good use? Take the quiz below to see how well you know the difference between further and farther.

And remember, while this is a guide to good usage, the physical vs. figurative distinction isn’t always adhered to in popular usage—a fact that you’ll find reflected in our definitions for the two terms. However, knowing the difference between good usage and popular usage will set you apart in formal settings and in the company of style-guide devotees.

#1 Grammar and Spell checker

Further and farther are two words that look and sound very similar and which have almost identical meanings. For that reason, it’s easy to get them mixed up in both speech and writing.

In short, further and farther both mean to a greater distance or extent. However, farther means a greater distance in a literal, physical sense i.e. it can be measured, whereas further is a greater figurative or metaphorical distance.

Both words can be used as adverbs or adjectives.

Frankly, mixing them up is probably not the biggest mistake you can make, as the rules around further and farther have become something of a gray area in modern language. But knowing the difference and using the words correctly is nevertheless important.

Definitions

The simple definitions of further and farther are both terms that mean more far, which is a grammatically incorrect phrase (that’s why we use further/farther) but does offer a succinct explanation of the definitions.

Anyway, let’s look at the common dictionary definitions:

  • Farther = (adverb/adjective) at or to a greater distance or more advanced point.
  • Further = (adverb/adjective) to a greater degree or extent.

So, it’s quite easy to understand.

Farther means more advanced in the sense of physical distance:

  • We will travel 10 miles farther on the highway, then we will stop.
  • How much farther to New York, Dad?
  • The farther north we go, the colder it gets.

Further means more distance in the sense of non-physical/metaphorical distance:

  • We will go no further with this conversation.
  • The family plunged further into debt that year.

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