Farther vs. Further

Have you wondered whether there is a right way and a wrong way to use the words farther and further? The different uses of the two words can be subtle. Let’s have a closer look.

Farther: Refers to physical distance only.

We had to walk farther than the map indicated.

Reno is farther from San Francisco than from Sacramento.

1. Moreover; in addition; to a greater extent.

We need to discuss this further.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

2. May be used for physical distance although farther is preferred.

We had to drive further.

3. To help forward, advance, or promote a work, undertaking, cause, etc.

Elisa had more desire to further her own interests than to further the mission of the organization.

Pop Quiz

Choose the correct word in each sentence. Scroll down to view answers.

1. The mountain peak was farther/further away than she expected.

2. Farther/Further negotiations should help the two sides reach an agreement.

3. I agree with the addition to the project as long as there are no farther/further delays.

4. I refuse to walk one step farther/further.

5. The purpose of the United Nations is to farther/further the cause of world peace.

Pop Quiz Answers

1. The mountain peak was farther away than she expected. -OR- The mountain peak was further away than she expected. (Either farther or further is correct but farther is preferred.)

2. Further negotiations should help the two sides reach an agreement.

3. I agree with the addition to the project as long as there are no further delays.

4. I refuse to walk one step farther. -OR- I refuse to walk one step further. (Either farther or further is correct but farther is preferred.)

5. The purpose of the United Nations is to further the cause of world peace.



Posted on Friday, July 18, 2008, at 4:57 pm

22 Comments on Farther vs. Further

22 responses to “Farther vs. Further

  1. ravi bedi says:

    This was great.

  2. michael white says:

    which is more correct grammar and why?
    i am further satisfied
    i am satisfied further

    would appreciate your reply!

    • I would recommend “I am further satisfied.” The adverb further, meaning to a greater degree modifies the adjective annoyed and seems to sound better in this case with the adverb just before the adjective. However, either would be grammatically correct.

  3. briana smith says:

    u can always just use both of them depends on what tense ur using it n at the moment and if ur around friends it dosnt matter

    • Our blog “Farther vs. Further,” notes that it does matter. “Only further should be used to mean moreover (Further, you hurt my feelings.), more extended (His further comments illuminated the meaning of the story.), or additional (Further bulletins came in).” Since this is a grammar blog, we also think that proper capitalization, spelling, and punctuation matter.

  4. Ed C. says:

    Is it correct to say “farther back in history?”

    • Farther refers to physical distance. It should be “further back in history.”

      • Tom says:

        The central focus here is a timeline, not an idea. Farther takes far one step and compares; while further stripped of comparison to its root would be fur, which has no meaning at all.

        • For consistency, we prefer The Associated Press Stylebook, which states “Farther refers to physical distance” while “Further refers to an extension of time or degree.” Many dictionaries, however, draw a less distinct line.

  5. JohnD says:

    I would go a little further than the author and point out that the distinction between “further” and “farther” is a modern one and found mainly in America. In other English-speaking countries, it is far more typical to use further for everything and to ignore the word “farther”.

    • William says:

      If it sounds right then I use that particular word. Furthermore, I believe the USA is to blame for all the errors in English grammar.

  6. Ski Anderson says:

    Thank you for the clarification. I appreciate it. I’ve used your site several times for conundrums I could not resolve on my own.

    Thank you,

    Ski Anderson

  7. Cathy says:

    And I hear this word being MISUSED every darn day on TV from people who are supposed to be smart. Now the teachers have a website about “common core,” and THEY use it incorrectly. Geez…

  8. St. Chris says:

    Your second example under “Further: Moreover; in addition; to a greater extent” is a bit of a problem:

    “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

    In that sentence, “further” means neither “moreover” nor “in addition” nor “to a greater extent.” It refers to metaphorical distance.

    Is “farther” appropriate for metaphorical distance (“My mind could not be farther from mundane concerns right now”) or would you say that “further” is necessary in such a context?

    • As we wrote in the eleventh edition of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Chapter 5, “Confusing Words and Homonyms,” farther refers to real, physical distance. Further deals with degree or extent. That’s really the issue: degree, as opposed to physical—literally physical—distance.

  9. Hennessy says:

    Similarly to kilometers or miles, years are a unit of measurement in spacetime. Logically it should be correct to say “ten years farther back in time”.

    • Farther usually refers to physical distance only. Since you cannot physically travel back in time, we recommend further. (However, as you probably know, a light-year is a measurement of distance.)

  10. Dani says:

    Problem solved! Very helpful!

  11. Joseph Randolla says:

    In the National Geographic mini-series “Mars”, a character said “in going to Mars we have travelled further than…”. In this case, it seems that this statement is both metaphorically and physically true. Which one to use in this case? I vote that either one is fine but, in this case, further seems better.

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