The difference between further vs. farther is slight (small), but using each of them correctly will help you in your journey to speak English fluently. That said, even native English speakers mix these two words up all the time! Let’s take a look at the difference between further and farther to better understand how to use both.
The reason people make so many mistakes with further vs. farther is because of their definitions. The meanings of these two words have significant overlap, making it hard to determine when to use one instead of the other.
So, which is correct: farther or further? While there is some gray area in the further vs. farther debate, there are definitely correct and incorrect ways to use both terms.
What’s the Difference Between Further vs. Farther?
Looking up the definitions of further and farther probably won’t help you figure out how they are used. Here are their definitions side-by-side:
Do you see how people might get confused? If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that both further and farther are not just adverbs. They can also function as adjectives. Here is how they are defined as adjectives:
As you can see, further and farther are still very similar when they function as adjectives. However, further can take on an additional meaning that farther simply cannot. We will take a closer look at this difference a little later on.
There is one more key difference between further vs. farther. While further can function as a verb, farther cannot.
Here is the definition for the verb form of further:
Now that you know the precise definitions of further and farther, it’s time to see how to use further and farther in a sentence!
Further vs. Farther Examples
Since context determines the difference between further vs. farther, it’s most useful to see how each word is used based on each of their many definitions. Let’s begin by looking at further and farther as adverbs.
Further vs. Farther as Adverbs
As a reminder, here is the adverbial definition for both further and farther:
Since the definitions are the same, further and farther are basically interchangeable as adverbs. In American English, “farther” is a little more common and casual, while “further” is perceived as more formal. However, as the examples above show, both are correct when used as adverbs. Now, let’s move on to further and farther as adjectives.
Further vs. Farther as Adjectives
This is where things get a little trickier. Remember that further and farther share two definitions as adjectives, so we’ll look at those first:
However, don’t forget that further also has a third meaning in the adjective form:
In the three samples above, you cannot replace further with farther, because farther cannot be used to mean “additional.” Finally, let’s look at the primary difference between further and farther.
Further as a Verb
Since farther cannot function as a verb, we will only look at further. Remember, this is the definition of “further” as a verb:
When further is used in the verb form, it most often relates to a plan or idea. Since farther can only refer to distances in time and space, it cannot be used in the same way.
Summary of Further vs. Farther
All of the definitions and examples above provide a lot of information, so it might be useful to simplify and condense (shorten) everything we’ve covered so far.
Here are some important things to remember about the difference between further vs. farther:
Now that you’ve learned the definitions and seen farther and further in a sentence, it’s time to put your skills to the test! Here are a few useful resources to practice using further and farther on your own:
There you have it! We hope you found this guide on further vs. farther useful! If you’d like to learn more about the difference between further vs. farther or find a highly qualified English tutor online to help guide you, visit Magoosh Speaking today to try an introductory lesson!