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"Further" Versus "Farther"

Today's topic is "further" versus "farther."  How does the word “farther” differ from the word “further,” and how can you remember the difference?

By
Mignon Fogarty,
October 6, 2016
Episode #537

Page 2 of 2

How to Use "Furthermore"

It is important to remember that “farther” has a tie to physical distance and can't be used to mean “moreover” or “in addition.”

We're nearly out of fuel. Further, there's an asteroid belt ahead.

A trick I use is to write “furthermore” when I mean “in addition.”

Furthermore, I hope you locked the door when we left.

Quick and Dirty Tip

The quick and dirty tip is that “farther” relates to physical distance and “further”  relates to figurative distance. If you can't decide which one to use, you're safer using “further” because “farther” has some restrictions, and if you tend to get confused, try using “furthermore” instead of “further.”

Open the next podcast segment in a new window to keep following along: Straight from the Horse's Mouth

Download the Chapter on "Dirty Words" From Grammar Girl's Book

"Further" versus "farther" is just one of the many confusing word choices that Mignon Fogarty covers in the "Dirty Words" chapter of her book, Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. You can download the chapter by clicking here.

You can order a copy of the paperback edition from any of these online retailers or pick one up at your favorite bookstore:

Amazon   Barnes and Noble

Powell’s   Borders

The book is also available in an e-book edition.  You can download a copy wherever e-books are sold.

History

Finally, if you're interested in the history of usage, “further” is the older word and according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage (2), it was 1906 when the first usage guide called on writers to make a distinction between “further” and “farther.”

References

1. Garner, B. Garner's Modern English Usage, 4th Edition. Oxford University Press, 2016, p. 378.

2. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 1994, p. 430.

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