Farther vs. Further - Let's Not Confuse them

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Farther vs. Further

Farther and further both are related to the word “Far” but they are used in slightly different kinds of scenarios. Farther is used to indicate literal distance and further is used for theoretical ones.

Farther

The actual or physical distance between two people or things is indicated by the adverb or adjective “Far” and the respective comparative degree is “Farther” which has the same meaning as “more far” or “longer distance”. It is used in situations like -

  • Let’s walk 5 miles farther, I am not tired at all. (5 extra miles)
  • Let’s walk 5 miles further, I am not tired at all.

 

  • My house is a bit farther down the road. (a bit longer distance to cover)
  • My house is a bit further down the road.

“5 miles” is a countable distance and hence, physical. Our normal sense of distance is expressed by the comparative adverb - farther used in the example above. The same goes for the second example as well where the distance to the speaker’s house is being discussed.

Further

The theoretical or figurative distance is determined by this comparative adverb or adjective which is often used in the same capacity as “farther”.

  • I just cannot seem to stretch my imagination any further. (Adjective)
  • I just cannot seem to stretch my imagination any farther.

 

  • Let’s not wait for him any further and dig in. (Adjective)
  • Let’s not wait for him any farther and dig in.

The first example above signifies allowing one’s imagination to expand to an extent where the “distance” is not physical so it is figurative in sense. The next example expresses the intention to start eating after a long wait for someone who would take even “longer” to arrive. Further is the comparative degree of the adjective - ”far”. 

 

It is also used in situations where the action is to extend something to an extent that can be measured or expressed figuratively.

  • We do not wish to further this conversation. (Verb)
  • We do not wish to farther this conversation.

 

  • Their dedication has furthered the field trip. (Verb)
  • Their dedication has farthered the field trip.

The act of stretching something to an extent is a figurative distance or scope and here, further is used as a verb and takes normal verbal formations with tense changes.

Difference: Farther vs. Further

Since both the words refer to far or distance in different scopes, it is necessary to understand their differences before using them or the confusion can result in crucial mistakes across speech and writing.

  • “Farther = more far” when the distance is measurable and literal.
  • “Further = more far” when the distance is not measurable and theoretical or figurative, in nature.

Trick: This is the very basic difference between these two words but to recall them easily we can use a trick. The one indicating the literal sense of distance has the “far-” intact in the spelling with an “A” and the figurative one has the twisted spelling “fur-” with a “U” (think of it as they just needed to do something different to change it up a little). When you can see “far” sitting inside the spelling it is measurable and when you don’t, it is the figurative one.

Comparison Table:

Comparison tables are the easiest ways to compare and contrast two things side by side for a clear conception. Let’s clear it up -

Factors

Farther

Further

Pronunciation (IPA)

/ˈfəːðə/

/ˈfəːðə/

Meaning

Longer distance

Longer distance

Indicates

Physical distance

Figurative distance

Parts of speech

Adjective, Adverb

Adjective, Adverb, Verb

Example

The post office is farther from the school than I pictured.

Sorry for furthering this relationship mindlessly.

 

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