English Word Basics: Differentiating Further vs. Farther

People trip up over commonly confused words. We’ve talked about and clarified plenty of these confusing word pairings in our previous posts, such as capital vs. capitol and good night vs. goodnight.

Today, we’re going to discuss and differentiate two words that people use interchangeably (and sometimes incorrectly): further and farther.

What is the Difference Between Further and Farther?

The difference between these two words is more than just a change in vowel. Let’s define both further and farther:

The Meaning of Further

This word can refer to a figurative distance. If a person, for instance, is narrating their life story and you stop them, you’re pausing them before they get “further” along. Further can also mean “additionally” or “in addition to,” enabling it to encompass a wider range of uses.

When looking at word usage, further is flexible. This word can function as a verb or an adjective.

When you use further as a verb, this can refer to three things:

  • Moving something forward
  • Helping advance something
  • Aiding in progress

Here’s an example statement of further as a verb: “A senator might further their political ambitions by running for vice president.”

As an adjective, further can mean, “extended and additional.” A couple of examples that use further as an adjective include pursuing further education and asking for further information.

The Meaning of Farther

The definition of farther is “to or at a greater distance.” This term usually describes the distance traveled or the space between destinations. An example is the sentence, “The blue car is farther away than the black motorcycle.”

Apart from physical distance, the word “farther” can mean “to a greater extent” or “a more advanced point.” Here’s an example: “The farther you go, the harder it is to return.”

Farther isn’t just an adjective. As an adverb, farther serves as an indication of an action that results in greater distance. An example is the sentence, “She drove the black motorcycle farther than the red car.”

Further vs. Farther: Which Word Should You Use?

farther vs further
A further vs. farther infographic to better help you differentiate these two terms. Source: Pinterest

We’ve talked about the difference between further and farther. Now, we’ll discuss a few basic grammar rules that you should follow when trying to decide whether to use further vs. farther in a sentence.

Keep in mind the following rules:

Use Further to Bolster Your Argument

You can use further to introduce and provide additional ideas to support your argument. It’s slightly more casual than the word “furthermore.”

Example: We don’t like zucchini and, further, we won’t eat them.

Pick Further When You Want to Say “More”

You can use further in place of more. You typically use this word for things that you’re unable to measure, such as ideas.

Example: If you don’t have further questions, we’ll end this meeting.

Choose Further When You Need a Verb

Certain scenarios will allow you to pick further with no discussion or second thought.

Example: Their group attempted to further a clandestine agenda.

Use Farther When You Can Measure Distance

You generally use farther for depth, length and so on. This term is a safe choice if you can measure what you’re talking about.

Example: Usain Bolt runs farther than anyone.

How to Remember the Further vs. Farther Difference

Still confused on the further vs. farther difference? Don’t worry.

Here are a few suggestions to help you easily distinguish the two terms:

  • If you are unable to replace “further” with “more” or “additional” in a statement or sentence, you’re probably using the word incorrectly.
  • If a sentence involves physical distance, think of the word “far” in “farther.”
  • Try substituting the word “further” for “furthermore.” You’ll most likely use “farther” (or a different word) if the replacement does not make a lot of sense.
  • If you are unable to recall the difference or are having difficulty making the distinction, you’re better off using the term “further.”

Further vs. Farther Quiz Time: Which Word Should You Use?

Pop quiz! Think you can ace this further vs. farther test? Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

This short further vs. farther test will check on what you’ve learned so far. See if you can answer the following questions correctly:

  1. The (further, farther) I have to drive this truck, the more my back bothers me.
  2. I chose not to take to my education (further, farther) than a bachelor’s degree primarily due to the cost.
  3. I begin to get nervous when my child climbs (further, farther) than I can reach them on the monkey bars.
  4. The first few albums of Led Zeppelin were awesome; (further, farther) releases weren’t necessary to sustain the band’s popularity.
  5. I won’t pursue my complaint any (further, farther) if I receive an apology and compensation from you.
  6. California is (further, farther) from here than New Hampshire.
  7. I can see (further, farther) than before now that I finally have my new contact lenses.
  8. Professor Cassidy showed the class how to get a (further, farther) computer performance.
  9. Jacob practiced throwing baseballs (further, farther) from the outfield.
  10. How much (further, farther) to Sarah Lee’s house?

Take note of this guide when using further vs. farther. Telling these two words apart may seem confusing at first glance. If you can remember the basic grammar rules mentioned in this article, you shouldn’t have much difficulty differentiating the two terms.

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