Further or farther

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To reach the post office, walk farther down the street.

Further, farther… What’s the difference? Is it just two different spellings of the same word? The answer is yes—and no. Please read on for some explanation.

Both ‘further’ and ‘farther’ are irregular comparative forms of the same adjective (and adverb): ‘far’ meaning distant. So, something that is further or farther is at a greater distance. In that sense, in British English they have the same meaning:

My house is further / farther down the road.

However, you can’t always use them interchangeably. To say that something is additional, simply meaning ‘more’ rather than ‘more distant’, use further only

Let’s not talk about this any further

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In contemporary American English, the difference tends to be more clear cut: farther is typically used when talking about spatial distance, while further is used in a more figurative sense. Some authors prefer one or the other as a matter of style, and you will find examples or farther where you would normally expect further, and vice versa. As the language evolves, this distinction has yet to fully develop.

So far we’ve discussed further and farther as adjectives and adverbs. They can also be used as verbs—well, at least one of them can.

To further something means to promote, to help the advance or progress of something. For instance, you can further your career by taking up additional study courses; one can further the cause of science, etc.

I hope this helped! Ready for a quick quiz now? Click here to practice this grammar point further. Or is it farther?

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