Make Your Editor Cry: Farther vs. Further

Make Your Editor Cry: Farther vs. Further

Farther refers to physical distance, while further describes the degree or extent of an action or situation. “I can’t run any farther,” but “I have nothing further to say.”

Farther is more restrictive because it refers to physical distance. It’s got the word “far” in there to help you remember.

Example:

You thought you'd be able to hit that can with a rock, but it fell short, so you'll have to try throwing it farther.

If you ask your parents for money, they might say they need to think about it further and then ask you lots of questions. Further refers to figurative distance, like a thought you need more time upon which to ruminate. The word further refers to figurative distance. It’s not the kind you measure with a ruler but like when you think further about something. It’s the older word of the two, and often does double duty.

Some people think farther and further are the same, but nothing could be further from the truth. (See what we did there?) Okay actually historically speaking, they were interchangeable, but like friends growing further apart, they now each have their own meaning. Farther is used literally, and further is used figuratively.

Use the word farther when you mean physical distance, like if you run farther than your friend. Use further for basically everything else.

Here’s a trick: If you can substitute “more” or “additional,” use further. Examples:

Correct:

I want to give this concept more study.
I want to give this concept additional study.
I want to give this concept further study.

Incorrect:

I want to give this concept farther study.

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