Farther vs Further - Difference in the Meaning and Use


Farther vs Further - Difference in the Meaning and Use

One letter in a word can sometimes change the entire meaning of it. That’s why it is so important to be attentive when writing a paper and pay attention to every letter you write in a word. One of such examples can be referred to the two similar words “further” and “farther,” which we often use in our communication. So what is the difference between the two? Is there any difference at all? In what cases is it more relevant to use “farther?” Are there any situations when the word “farther” cannot be replaced by any other one by definition? Let’s dig deeper into this question.

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The difference between “farther” and its analog

The difference between “further” and “farther” is significant in American English. It is associated with the following aspects the two words describe:

  • “farther” is literally “further” when it comes to physical distance;
  • “further” means the same but in a figurative sense, when we talk about the continuation of some action / time.

Examples of the use of “farther”:

The village is five miles farther. - There are five more miles to the village.

We can’t go any farther; it’s dangerous in the woods. 

Both examples are about physical distance; that’s why the adverb “farther” is used. 

Examples:

We’ll go no further with this project. - We will not continue to work on this project.

You’ll get further into debt. - You will get into debt even more.

As you can see, in the last two examples, we are not talking about a physical distance; the event/ condition is described in the context of time.

Differently from American English, the difference between “farther” and another word is more blurred in British English. “Farther” and its alternative can be used in both meanings: referring to a physical distance and in a figurative sense.

Examples:

I can’t walk any further / farther. - I can’t move on.

I won’t read this book any farther / further.  - I will not continue reading this book.

Controversial case with “farther” 

It is sometimes unclear whether we are talking about distance in the literal or figurative sense. 

Example:

I got no farther / further than the second chapter; the book just bored me. 

We can use “further” in a figurative sense here since it is about reading and not walking. On the other hand, reading in this case is also associated with physical quantities since it is about reading a certain number of pages, which can be considered as a distance. Based on the above, both words can be used.

“Farther” vocabulary specs

Among the exceptions for the degree of adjective comparison in English, there is the word “far,” which means distant, long-distance, remote, etc. Interestingly, there are two different word variations of the same with a slight difference in their meaning. 

When it is an adjective

“Further” has  not the only meaning of “farther” and “further.” “Farther” can be also used as the adjective “far” or “far away” when it comes to something that is in a distance from the speaker. In this case, you should use “farther,” and not “further,” even in British English.

Example:

The exit is on the farther side of the field. = Exit on the far side of the field.

The adjective “further” can mean “additional,” that is, supplementing something already existing.

Example:

For further information click here. = For more information, click here.

You will be given some further instructions. = You will be given additional (extra) instructions.

When it is a verb

The verb “further” means “promote,” “deepen,” “help to develop.” However, it is rarely used - in formal speech only.

Example:

This achievement will further your career. = This achievement will help your career (“advance” your career).

When it is an adverb

It is important to remember that when referring to distance, you can use the following forms of the word: “farther” / “the farthest.” However, if you need to use the word in the context of the time refer, use the “further” / “the furthest” forms instead. Some still believe that “farther” is universal and can be used in both cases without ruining the meaning of the sentence. Let us consider these cases in more detail to understand the difference between the “farther” and “further.”

Learn about the use of conjunctions

Degrees of adjective comparison

When thinking about which form of degree of comparison to choose - “farther” or “further,” remember that the form “further” is universal. It can be used both to indicate distance and time. However, listening to audio recordings, podcasts, watching films, TV shows, or cartoons in English, you can come across the form “farther” (the farthest), which, as we have already found out, is used to mean the distance and nothing else.

Set phrases and idioms

There is a long list of set phrases with both “farther,” which you are to remember if you want to write A-grade academic papers:

  • So far so good so far so good;
  • So far - until, until now;
  • By far - explicitly, universally, unconditionally;
  • Can't see farther than the end of (one's) nose;
  • Not trust (someone) farther than (one) can throw (them);
  • The nearer the church, the farther from God;
  • Far and wide everywhere - comprehensively;
  • As far as I know - on my point of view.

To understand what word to use, you should, first of all, understand what exactly you want to say, what content word (adjective, adverb, or verb) should be in a sentence, and what contextual refer it should have (time/ distance). If you have no clue about that all, let English grammar experts do all the hard work for you. No matter if you need us to proofread and fix errors in the ready-made essay or do an English grammar test for you, we will help you with the both. Thus, you do not need to waste your time exploring how the task should be done.