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Is There a Difference Between “Further” and “Farther”?

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There are instances where “further” and “farther” can be interchanged, and other instances where they can’t. We’ll elaborate below.

Should you use further or farthest? Furthest works in every scenarios while farthest does not.
Both “further” and “farther” are comparatives of the word “far.”
“Further” vs. “Farther”
  • Further and farther are often interchangeable; you can use either one as an adjective when referring to distance (physical or figurative). However, further is the most common and preferred word to use as an adverb that means “additionally,” an adjective that means “additional,” or a verb that means “to advance.”
    • We were told to park at the house that was further along the road.
      We were told to park at the house that was farther along the road.

Let's Have a Further Look

You’re here for a clear-cut answer to whether you should use further or farther. Unfortunately, not much about the English language is clear-cut. There are times when you can use either of these words, and other times when one is preferred.

Our advice? You can’t go wrong with using further in all contexts. We’ll explain why below.

Is it furthest or farthest? Depends what you're using it for.
Some guides recommend using “farther” for physical distances and “further” for metaphorical distances.

What Does “Far” Mean?

The word far can function as both an adverb and an adjective. As an adverb, far means “at, to, or by a considerable distance.” It’s also used when referring to the distance between two places.

Don’t wander too far or you’ll get lost.
How far is Manhattan from Long Island?

As an adjective, far means “at a considerable distance away from you,” or “remote in space or time.”

I saw her on the far side of the building.
The laws of physics apply to the far reaches of the universe.

Now that we’ve gone over what far means, let’s review which is the correct comparative form of this word: further or farther?

When It’s Okay To Use Either “Further” or “Farther”

If you want to use the comparative form of far to refer to distance, both further and farther are acceptable. Some guides suggest reserving farther for physical distances and further for figurative distances:

We were driving farther away from the store.
(Physical distance)
Our friendship was ending, and we were drifting further away from one another.
(Figurative distance)

Although this is a popular and widely accepted guideline, it’s not a rule that has to be strictly followed. In other words, you can also use further for physical distances and farther for figurative distances, and it won’t technically be considered incorrect.

This is the only instance where further and farther can be interchanged.

When To Use “Further” (But Not “Farther”)

The main distinction between further and farther is that further can be used as an adverb, adjective, or verb that has nothing to do with distance, but farther can’t.

As an adverb, further means “moreover” or “additionally.”

Further, we must consider the need of every child.

Farther, we must consider the need of every child.

Further can also function as an adjective that means “additional.” Although farther was also once used this same way, it is no longer recommended to do so.

Please pass along any further information to your classmates.

Please pass along any farther information to your classmates.

Lastly, further can be used as a verb that means “to help something progress or develop,” but farther can’t.

We were discussing ways he could further the cause in his community.

We were discussing ways he could farther the cause in his community.

Further Your Writing Skills With LanguageTool

Remember this when deciding to use further or father:

  • You can use both further and farther when referring to physical or figurative distance (although it has become popular to use farther for physical distance and further for figurative distance).
  • You can only use further as an adverb that means “additionally,” an adjective that means “additional,” or a verb that means “to progress or develop something.” Farther does not work in these instances.

As you can see, there is no instance in which further is wrong, so that’s why if you want to play it safe, it’s a good idea to always use further. Another good idea is to use LanguageTool as your spelling and grammar checker if you hope to further your skills as a writer. This advanced, multilingual writing assistant can help enhance your texts by correcting errors and suggesting stylistic improvements.

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