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Is It Farther Or Further

Published by at February 13th, 2024 , Revised On March 1, 2024

In the ever-shifting ocean of language, a few pairs of confusing words cause more drama than “further” and “farther.” They both seem to point in the same direction – towards greater distance, extension, or progress – yet a few differences separate them, waiting to trip up unsuspecting navigators.

Defining The Terms: Further And Farther

Before deciphering the differences, let’s establish clear definitions for both “further” and “farther.” While both words convey a sense of increased distance, they are not synonymous.


“Further” is primarily used as an adverb and occasionally as an adjective. As an adverb, it denotes the advancement or progress of a situation or action. For instance, one might say, “Let’s discuss this further,” meaning the conversation should be extended or explored in more detail.


On the other hand, “farther” typically serves as an adverb or adjective, emphasising physical distance or extent. For example, “The mountains are farther than they appear,” highlights the spatial separation between the observer and the mountains.

When To Choose Further Or Farther

Let’s explore specific scenarios where “further” and “farther” find their respective homes.

Physical Distance: Farther

When referring to actual, measurable distance, especially in a spatial context, “farther” is the go-to choice. For instance, “The supermarket is farther from my house than I thought” accurately conveys the idea of increased physical separation.

Figurative Distance: Further

On the other hand, when the distance is metaphorical or abstract, “further” takes the spotlight. For example, “We need to explore this topic furtherimplies a need for additional investigation or discussion, not necessarily a physical distance.

Time And Progress: Further

When discussing the progression of time, ideas, or activities, “further” is the preferred term. For instance, “Let’s wait for further instructions” implies a need for additional guidance or information.

Degree Or Extent: Further

In situations where the emphasis is on degree or extent, “further” is the apt choice. Consider the sentence, “She wanted to push the project further,” where the focus is on advancing the project to a greater extent.

Actions And Achievements: Further

When describing actions or achievements, especially in terms of advancement, “further” is the appropriate choice. “He worked hard to further his career” indicates efforts made to advance or enhance one’s professional standing.

Etymological Echoes

Both words share a fascinating origin story. “Farther” emerged in Middle English as a comparative form of “far,” while “further” was already established as an adverb and adjective with broader meanings. Over time, their usage evolved, leading to the subtle distinctions we see today.

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Examples Illustrating The Difference: Further vs. Farther

Here are some examples to help you further understand the difference between the terms.

Physical Distance

    • Incorrect: “The airport is further from the hotel than I expected.”
    • Correct: “The airport is farther from the hotel than I expected.”

Figurative Distance

    • Incorrect: “We need to investigate this matter farther.”
    • Correct: “We need to investigate this matter further.”

Time And Progress

    • Incorrect: “The research is ongoing, and we will update you farther.”
    • Correct: “The research is ongoing, and we will update you further.”

Degree Or Extent

    • Incorrect: “The company plans to expand farther into international markets.”
    • Correct: “The company plans to expand further into international markets.”

Actions And Achievements

    • Incorrect: “She hopes to farther her education by pursuing a master’s degree.”
    • Correct: “She hopes to further her education by pursuing a master’s degree.”

Frequently Asked Questions

The choice between “farther” and “further” depends on context. “Farther” is appropriate for physical distance, while “further” relates to figurative, abstract, or metaphorical aspects, such as time, progress, or degree. Select the correct term for clear communication based on the specific nature of the distance you’re describing.

In the UK, there’s a tendency to use “further” and “farther” interchangeably, unlike in the US, where a clearer distinction is maintained. However, both are generally accepted in British English, with “further” often preferred for non-physical distances and abstract contexts, while “farther” may be used for measurable physical distances.

The choice between “run further” or “run farther” depends on the context. If referring to physical distance, like a marathon, “run farther” is appropriate. When discussing running skills’ development or progress, “run further” is suitable. Consider the nature of the distance to convey the intended meaning accurately.

When referring to a specific point in time, like a calendar date, it is more accurate to use “further.” For example, “Let’s schedule the meeting for a further date.” However, if discussing the temporal extension of a series of events, “farther” might be applicable, such as “farther into the future.”

The choice between “further” or “farther” when referring to swimming depends on the context. If discussing physical distance swum, use “farther,” such as “swam farther across the lake.” If emphasising progress or exploration in a metaphorical sense, use “further,” like “plan to swim further into advanced techniques.”

The choice between “sink further” or “sink farther” depends on the context. If referring to physical depth, use “farther,” like “the ship continued to sink farther into the ocean.” For a metaphorical or abstract sense of decline, use “further,” such as “his financial situation continued to sink further.”

In mathematics, “farther” and “further” are often used interchangeably. Both can describe increased numerical distance or progression. However, the distinction aligns with their general usage: “farther” for measurable physical distances and “further” for abstract or metaphorical advancements in mathematical concepts or problems.

The difference between “further” and “furthest” lies in degree or extent. “Further” indicates additional advancement or progress, while “furthest” represents the maximum extent or distance reached. For example, “Let’s explore this topic further” vs. “That was the furthest distance we could travel in a day.”

About Alvin Nicolas

Avatar for Alvin NicolasNicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He is a content manager at ResearchProspect. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.