Ever use the word “farther” or “further” and wonder if you should really be using the other word instead? We can tell you that you’re not the only one who’s confused. A lot of people use these words without being confident that they’re using them correctly. That’s why we’re going to walk through the difference between these two words today.
To be fair, “farther” and “further” have set themselves up to be confused for each other. After all, both words refer to distance and their spellings differ by just a single letter. So how do these words differ?
We use “farther” when we’re referring to physical distance. For example, we would use “farther” in sentences like these:
“How much farther do we have to drive?”
“The cabin is farther up the hill.”
In both cases, we’re referring to the physical distance between where we are and a destination.
In comparison, we use “further” when we’re referring to figurative or metaphorical distance. For example, we would use “further” like this:
“We can discuss the report further on the way to the airport.”
“Don’t bother describing the model further during the presentation.”
In both cases, we’re referring to the extent to which we’re discussing or describing something. That is, we’re referring to figurative distance instead of physical distance.
Because “farther” and “further” are spelled similarly, it can be hard to remember which word stands for physical distance and which one stands for metaphorical distance. The good news is that we have a trick that you can use: “Farther” contains the word “far,” which refers to physical distance. This will help you remember that “farther” refers to physical distance.
Want to know the difference between other commonly misused words? Check out our post on the difference between “compose” and “comprise.”
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“Farther” vs. “further”: What’s the difference?