DR. ENGLISH: Farther/Further

“Farther” and “further” have for many years been considered interchangeable, but they are not the same. “Farther” is associated with physical distances. As such, if you can substitute “more distance” (e.g., more yards, more laps, or more miles) for “farther,” you probably have used “farther” correctly.

As examples:

  • I wanted to run farther, but my knee started to hurt.
  • My house is farther from school than yours.
  • The new car goes a lot farther on a tank of gas.

“Further” relates to a symbolic or metaphorical distance, depth, or height, usually measured in terms of time, quantity, or degree.

If you can replace “further” with “additional” (among other words), you have probably used it correctly; e.g.:

  • I called for further discussion of the matter.
  • I need to look further into the possibility of moving closer to school.
  • I hope gasoline prices drop further.

If you want further discussion of this topic, we’re no farther away than your telephone or keyboard.