Farther should be used when referring to physical distances. For example, "The house is just a little farther down the road."
Further should be used for figurative distances or as a substitute for "in addition." For example, "She couldn't wait to examine it further."
A Closer Look at Farther vs. Further
Understanding when to use farther vs. further is very tricky. There is some controversy about the actual meaning and appropriate uses of these words. Historically, they have been interchangeable, but they are slowly beginning to take on their own distinct meanings.
The quick answers above will guarantee that you don't misuse the words in circumstances where the two are not interchangeable. Depending on the dictionary (we used Merriam-Webster), farther and further both mean "at or to a greater distance or more advanced point." So, technically, you could use either word in the following examples:
The house was just a little farther down the road. | The house was just a little further down the road.
She couldn't wait to examine it further. | She couldn't wait to examine it farther.
An instance in which farther and further cannot be used interchangeably is when further is being used to say "in addition" or "moreover." For example, in the following sentences, farther would not be appropriate:
You must complete questions 1–5 on the handout. Further, you must read pages 32–48 in your textbook.
As these words continue to develop their own meanings, we will see more controversy over which word is appropriate to use in which situation. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep track of current opinions and suggested uses!
Bonus Word: Furthermore
Furthermore means "in addition to what precedes." It is like further, but it is not interchangeable with farther because it can only be used to indicate an abstract distance.
The main distinction between further and furthermore is that further gives additional information about the same topic, while furthermore introduces a new idea within the same topic or argument.
Consider this discussion of whether it is better to live in the city or the country to see how to use further and furthermore in practice:
Living in the city is better because stores and restaurants are always open when you need them. Further, you do not have to drive a long way to access them.
Further is the correct word to use here because you are providing additional information to support the idea that stores are easily available if you live in the city.
It is much better to live in the country because the air is much fresher and cleaner than it is in the city.
Furthermore, escaping the bustle of the city can reduce stress and anxiety.
Here, it is better to use furthermore because you are introducing a new piece of evidence about why the country is better.
Use Farther vs. Further Correctly Every Time
As with all difficult words, the only way to use them correctly every time is to double-check your work. To catch errors in your writing, including incorrect uses of farther vs. further, submit your writing to the professionals at Scribendi for a thorough proofread.
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