Farther vs. Further

Few sets of words stump speakers and writers of American English as much as farther and further do. In this post we’ll examine the correct uses for each word.

One reason farther and further are difficult to distinguish is that both mean something close to “beyond.” However, there is a big difference. Farther generally refers to physical distance, whereas further can extend to more-abstract concepts that are harder to measure.

Let’s briefly look closer at each.

Using Farther Correctly

When you use the word farther, you are specifying physical distance, something that the presence of “far” in the word can help you remember. Here are a few ways to use farther in a sentence:

  • The new grocery store had better produce, but it was farther from us than Tony’s local market.
  • Sometimes experienced runners go farther than planned when the weather is pleasant.
  • Joan traveled farther than the other attendees to be at the conference, but what she learned there made the extra distance worthwhile.

To identify farther as the right word in a sentence, simply keep the distance factor in mind.

Using Further Correctly

When you use the word further, you’re still expressing the idea of moving beyond a certain point, but the movement does not relate to distance. It rather applies to conceptual movement or progress, as in meanings such as “more,” “additionally,” or “to a greater degree.”

Here are some examples:

  • Randy and Christine made an appointment so they could further discuss their business partnership.
  • I couldn’t see the point of going further with my violin lessons if I wouldn’t be playing in the recital.
  • Nancy was concerned she wouldn’t be able to secure further investment without producing a better business plan.

Notice how each use of further implies an extension of something instead of something’s distance.

 

Pop Quiz

Using what you’ve learned in this article, choose the correct word in each sentence.

  1. I wanted to visit the farmers market, but it was [farther / further] than I wished to drive in the bad weather.
  2. As a general rule, the [farther / further] you travel, the more frequent-flyer miles you earn.
  3. James wouldn’t listen so I didn’t see the point in discussing it with him any [farther / further].
  4. A [farther / further] inspection of the document helped us locate the home’s original owner.
  5. The donations received will help to [farther / further] research into this vital area of medicine.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

  1. I wanted to visit the farmers market, but it was farther than I wished to drive in the bad weather.
  2. As a general rule, the farther you travel, the more frequent-flyer miles you earn.
  3. James wouldn’t listen so I didn’t see the point in discussing it with him any further.
  4. A further inspection of the document helped us locate the home’s original owner.
  5. The donations received will help to further research into this vital area of medicine.

 

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4 Comments on Farther vs. Further

4 responses to “Farther vs. Further

  1. Carolyn Welcome says:

    You wrote: “Let’s briefly look closer at each.”

    Wouldn’t this be better?
    “Let’s briefly look more closely at each.”

    • GrammarBook.com says:

      Both are grammatically correct. We chose to use fewer words in conveying the sense of “nearer; within a shorter distance,” as in a statement such as We moved closer to the stage during the concert.

  2. GretchenJoanna says:

    This word usage is what I learned as a youth, but from my reading it appears that the British use further and farther in the opposite way. Do you know anything about that?

    • GrammarBook.com says:

      We are not immediately aware of how British English might use further and farther differently from American English, but we may visit that topic should we return to our series comparing the dialects. If you are interested, you can search for our articles entitled “Exchanging English Over the Pond: U.S. and U.K.” here at our website.

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