Farther vs Further

What is the Difference?


Farther and further are two commonly confused words in the English language. When do you use each one?

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Should you say, "It is farther down the aisle"?

Or should you say, "It is further down the aisle"?

Is it "farther away" or "further away"?

In this lesson, we you will learn the differences between farther and further.

Farther

We usually use farther to talk about a physical length or distance. Farther is the comparative form of far when talking about physical distance.

If you can replace the word farther with a phrase like "more miles" or "more distance", then you are probably using it correctly.

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Examples:

  • If you walk farther down the road, you will see my house.

    (If you walk more miles down the road, you will see my house.)

  • The school is farther down Oak Street.

    (The school is more miles down Oak Street.)

  • How much farther until we get there?

    (How many more miles until we get there?)

  • Texas is farther south than Oklahoma.

    (Texas is more miles south than Oklahoma.)

  • Move your chair farther toward the back of the room.

    (Move your chair more distance toward the back of the room.)

  • The dog ran farther than I thought he would when I let him out of the house.

    (The dog ran more distance than I thought he would when I let him out of the house.)
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Further

We usually use further to talk about a metaphorical distance, like a distance in time. It refers to a time or amount. Further is the comparative form of "far" when you mean "much."

Further is another way of saying "additional" or "more time."

woman looking at clock

Examples:

  • His plan needs further study.

    (His plan needs additional study.)

  • I won't listen to this any further.

    (I won't listen to this for any more time.)

  • The teacher wants to discuss this further tomorrow.

    (The teacher wants to discuss this for more time tomorrow.)

  • I plan to further my education.

    (I plan to spend more time on my education.)


More tips

Sometimes it can be difficult to decide if you should use farther or further. Sometimes it is hard to tell if you are talking about a physical distance or a metaphorical distance.

For example:
  • Billy is further/farther along on the exam than Janet.
In this sentence, we don't know if it is a physical distance or time.

Billy could be physically farther on the test if he is on page two and Janet is only on page one.

Or it could mean a metaphorical distance or further through the test. Billy has spent more time on the test and has less time to finish than Janet.

If you are not sure which one to use, it is best to use further because it has less restrictions. Some writing style guides and dictionaries say that it doesn't matter which one you use.

Farthest and furthest

Farthest and furthest are the superlative forms of far.

They follow the same rules as farther and further.

Farthest is used to show a physical distance.

Example:
  • We traveled the farthest to get here today.

    (We traveled the most miles to get here today.)
driving

Furthest
is used to show a metaphorical distance.

Example:
  • He is the furthest thing from my mind today.

    (I am not spending any more time thinking about him today.)

happy woman

These were the differences of farther and further. Now that you understand, it is time to practice! Get our ESL Books.

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