Farther vs. Further


Grover knows near and far, but does he know farther and further?

Lesson: Using farther and further in a sentence.

This word choice conundrum has sent many a person scratching their head. So, if you are one of those reaching for your cranium, don’t fear. It just means you’re an English speaker dealing with one of the most common word choice questions.

When to use farther
Use farther when talking about physical distance.

Examples:

The rat jumped three inches. The cat jumped five inches.
The cat jumped farther than the rat.

The bunny made it to the end of the race. The squirrel only made it half way.
The bunny went farther than the squirrel.

When to use further
The basic rule of thumb for when to use farther or further is this: If it doesn’t have to do with physical distance, you should use further.

Further means additional.

Examples:

The rat needs further funding to keep his cat-catching business operational.
Here further means additional, as in additional funding.

A week after the argument, the bunny said they should discuss the topic further.
Again, here further means additional, as in additional discussion.

Further can also refer to an amount of something that is not physical, such as an amount of work or an amount of time.

Examples:

By his schedule, the bat should be further along in his plans.
Here, further refers to a general amount work the bat needs to do in his plans.

The further the tortoise gets in his career, the more he looks forward to retirement.
Here further refers to a general amount of time the tortoise spends in his career.

Quiz
See if you’ve furthered your knowledge of farther and further by taking this quiz. The answers are below.

1. After thirty years of working a dead-end job, the worm decided to _______ his life goals.
2. The worm thought he was almost to the restaurant, but a sign said he needed to go ______ down the road.
3. The worm hadn’t reached nirvana, so he needed to do ______ research into Buddhism.
4. The ______ the worm got in life, the wiser he got.
5. The worm invented robotic legs so he could take big steps and go _______.

1. further (amount of completion) 2. farther (physical distance) 3. further (additional) 4. further  (amount of time) 5. farther (physical distance)

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2 thoughts on “Farther vs. Further

  1. Nice post. For some reason it drives me up the wall when people make this mistake.

    Also, further can be used as a verb (as in your first quiz question), while farther can not.

    That Sesame Street bit cracks me up. (I always thought Cookie Monster could use a lesson on subject/object pronouns)

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