Further vs. Farther – How To Distinguish These Two

11.08.23 Commonly confused words Time to read: 4min

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In the pursuit of writing a compelling academic work, the hurdle of commonly confused words often arises. The essence of academic writing lies in its precision and writing style, with the goal of effectively conveying the intended thoughts. “Further” vs. “farther” regularly fall into this pitfall, as they appear similar, causing many to use them interchangeably. Nonetheless, their meaning and usage differ, although they are spelled and pronounced similarly.

Definition of “further vs. farther”

The words “further” and “farther” have closely related meanings and spellings. They are both used to express distance but are traditionally used slightly differently. Both are adverbs and comparative adjectives, depending on the use.

Further

… refers to an adverb and adjective used to modify verbs and nouns in the sense of a metaphorical distance.

Farther

… refers to an adverb and adjective used to modify verbs and nouns in the sense of a physical distance.

“Further” and “farther” refer both to comparative forms of the word “far”. In some cases, they can be used interchangeably, however, according to conventional English grammar, they should be used in different contexts. When a metaphorical or figurative distance is expressed, or the aim is to express “to a greater extent”, the preferred word to use is “further”. I.e., it refers more to the concept rather than the actual physical distance. In the context of a physical or literal distance, the word “farther” is the correct choice.

Using the word “further”

The word “further” can function as an adverb modifying adjectives, verbs, or other adverbs. This word also functions as an adjective modifying nouns.

“Further” as an adverb

“Further” when used as an adverb, usually implies “a greater degree/extent” in figurative speech and modifies other adverbs, adjectives, or verbs.

Examples

  • This needs to be explored further before making a decision.
  • He decided to investigate further into the case.
  • Can you explain further what is meant by “metaphorical”?

“Further” as an adjective

“Further” used as a comparative adjective in a sentence, typically indicates a higher degree of a specific quality by modifying a noun.

Examples

  • She has one further question before the meeting is over.
  • Due to an accident, there will be a further delay.
  • We have no further comments at this time.

Tip for using “further” correctly

Replacing “further” with respective synonyms in a sentence can be helpful when contemplating whether you use it correctly or not. Some synonyms for “further” are “additional”, “to advance”, and “more”. Some sentences must be adjusted to proper grammar.

Synonyms Examples
Additional Further research is required to confirm these results.
Additional research is required to confirm these results.
To advance I'm looking to further my skills in the field.
I'm looking to advance my skills in the field.
More We need further information to resolve this problem.
We need more information to resolve this problem.

Using the word “farther”

“Father” can be used as an adverb or comparative adjective modifying verbs, adverbs, adjectives, or nouns. In contrast to “further” it commonly refers to a physical distance in the context.

“Farther” as an adverb

In the form of an adverb, “farther” modifies adjectives, verbs, and other adverbs, referring to “a greater degree” of a literal distance.

Examples

  • The campsite is a few meters farther down.
  • We drove farther than expected to reach the hotel.
  • She threw the ball farther than anyone.

“Farther” as an adjective

When “farther” represents a comparative adjective, it modifies a noun, referring to an advanced quality of a literal distance. The word indicates distance in a literal sense.

Examples

  • The farther side of the stadium is quieter and more secluded.
  • From the farther window, you can see the rooftop of the building.
  • She always parks in the farther parking lot for more exercise.

Tip for using “farther” correctly

Substituting “farther” with suitable synonyms can help to ensure whether you use the word correctly. Some synonyms for “farther” are “the more distant”, “deeper”, and “more remote”.

Synonyms Examples
More distant Can you see the church on the farther field?
Can you see the church on the more distant field?
Deeper He swam farther into the sea.
He swam deeper into the sea.
more remote The bus stop is farther away than I thought.
The bus stop is more remote than I thought.

Test yourself!

Practice sheet

To test your understanding of the different uses of “further” and “farther”, fill in the blank spaces in the ten practice sentences. You can then compare the answers in the second tab.

  1. Can you explain the context a little ______?
  2. The dog ran  ______ into the forest than expected.
  3. For this event, we need to take  ______ precautions for safety.
  4. We need ______ information to proceed with the project.
  5. The lighthouse was ______ than initially expected.
  6. She traveled ______ south than planned.
  7. He had to push himself ______ for better results.
  8. The city center is much ______ from here than you think.
  9. They need to do ______ research to draw an accurate conclusion.
  10. The moon seemed ______ away than usual.
  1. Can you explain the context a little further?
  2. The dog ran farther into the forest than expected.
  3. For this event, we need to take further precautions for safety.
  4. We need further information to proceed with the project.
  5. The lighthouse was farther than initially expected.
  6. She traveled further south than planned.
  7. He had to push himself further for better results.
  8. The city center is much farther from here than you think.
  9. They need to do further research to draw an accurate conclusion.
  10. The moon seemed farther away than usual.

FAQs

Generally, the word “further” is used to discuss a metaphoric distance or an extent/degree. On the other hand, “farther” is used when a physical or literal distance is discussed.

“Further” can function as an adverb and an adjective. When used as an adjective, it means the same as “additional” or “more”. When used as an adverb, it modifies an action (verb) in terms of greater extent.

Example of using “father” in a sentence:

  • The lake is farther from the house than the swimming pool.
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