Further vs. Farther – How to Use Each Correctly
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- “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.
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.