Further vs. Farther: Differences and How to Use Them in English

The difference between further vs. farther is slight (small), but using each of them correctly will help you in your journey to speak English fluently. That said, even native English speakers mix these two words up all the time! Let’s take a look at the difference between further and farther to better understand how to use both.

The reason people make so many mistakes with further vs. farther is because of their definitions. The meanings of these two words have significant overlap, making it hard to determine when to use one instead of the other.

So, which is correct: farther or further? While there is some gray area in the further vs. farther debate, there are definitely correct and incorrect ways to use both terms.

What’s the Difference Between Further vs. Farther?

Looking up the definitions of further and farther probably won’t help you figure out how they are used. Here are their definitions side-by-side:

Further (adverb)

  • A great distance (or length of time) to or from something

Farther (adverb)

  • A great distance (or length of time) to or from something

Do you see how people might get confused? If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that both further and farther are not just adverbs. They can also function as adjectives. Here is how they are defined as adjectives:

Further (adjective)

  • More distant than something else
  • More remote
  • Additional to something that already exists or has already occurred

Farther (adjective)

  • More distant than something else
  • More remote

As you can see, further and farther are still very similar when they function as adjectives. However, further can take on an additional meaning that farther simply cannot. We will take a closer look at this difference a little later on.

There is one more key difference between further vs. farther. While further can function as a verb, farther cannot.

Here is the definition for the verb form of further:

Further (verb)

  • To promote or add to the progress of something

Now that you know the precise definitions of further and farther, it’s time to see how to use further and farther in a sentence!

Further vs. Farther Examples

Since context determines the difference between further vs. farther, it’s most useful to see how each word is used based on each of their many definitions. Let’s begin by looking at further and farther as adverbs.

Further vs. Farther as Adverbs

As a reminder, here is the adverbial definition for both further and farther:

  • A great distance (or length of time) to or from something

Example Sentences:

  • I walked further than he did. / I walked farther than he did.
  • The further he runs, the more tired he’ll feel. / The farther he runs, the more tired he’ll feel.
  • Her school is further away from mine. / Her school is farther away from mine.

Since the definitions are the same, further and farther are basically interchangeable as adverbs. In American English, “farther” is a little more common and casual, while “further” is perceived as more formal. However, as the examples above show, both are correct when used as adverbs. Now, let’s move on to further and farther as adjectives.

Further vs. Farther as Adjectives

This is where things get a little trickier. Remember that further and farther share two definitions as adjectives, so we’ll look at those first:

  • More distant than something else
  • More remote

Example Sentences:

  • The astronomers looked into the further reaches of the galaxy. / The astronomers looked into the farther reaches of the galaxy.
  • The man sat at the further end of the table. / The man sat at the farther end of the table.
  • The elderly woman could hardly walk to the further side of the room. / The elderly woman could hardly walk to the farther side of the room.

However, don’t forget that further also has a third meaning in the adjective form:

  • Additional to something that already exists or has already occurred

Example Sentences:

  • After you let the noodles bowl for 30 minutes, you’ll need to let them drain for a further 5 minutes.
  • We need to conduct further reviews before reaching a conclusion.
  • You can direct any further questions to my secretary.

In the three samples above, you cannot replace further with farther, because farther cannot be used to mean “additional.” Finally, let’s look at the primary difference between further and farther.

Further as a Verb

Since farther cannot function as a verb, we will only look at further. Remember, this is the definition of “further” as a verb:

  • To promote or add to the progress of something

Example Sentences:

  • She wanted to further her career in the entertainment industry.
  • The board of directors furthered the company’s diversity initiative.
  • By furthering his own plan, the man was able to further his friend’s plan as well.

When further is used in the verb form, it most often relates to a plan or idea. Since farther can only refer to distances in time and space, it cannot be used in the same way.

Summary of Further vs. Farther

All of the definitions and examples above provide a lot of information, so it might be useful to simplify and condense (shorten) everything we’ve covered so far.

Here are some important things to remember about the difference between further vs. farther:

  • Farther can only be used as an adverb or an adjective. It always relates to distances in time or space.
  • Further can be used as an adverb, adjective, or verb. As an adverb or adjective, it is usually (though not always) interchangeable with farther.
  • When used as an adjective, further is a synonym for “additional.”
  • As a verb, further is a synonym for “promote.”

Resources

Now that you’ve learned the definitions and seen farther and further in a sentence, it’s time to put your skills to the test! Here are a few useful resources to practice using further and farther on your own:

There you have it! We hope you found this guide on further vs. farther useful! If you’d like to learn more about the difference between further vs. farther, visit Magoosh Speaking today!

Matthew Jones

Matthew Jones

Matthew Jones is a freelance writer with a B.A. in Film and Philosophy from the University of Georgia. It was during his time in school that he published his first written work. After serving as a casting director in the Atlanta film industry for two years, Matthew acquired TEFL certification and began teaching English abroad. In 2017, Matthew started writing for dozens of different brands across various industries. During this time, Matthew also built an online following through his film blog. If you’d like to learn more about Matthew, you can connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or his personal website!
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