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Farther / Further

Expressing comparative distance or "additional"

Further down the steet
 

 

Comparative Distance

FARTHER

Farther is used with the meaning of comparative distance.  Some speakers prefer farther for physical distance (spatial, temporal, metaphorical distance) while others prefer further. Still others use the two, farther and further interchangeably (the same). 

ADJECTIVE

The shop is farther down the street.  physical distance

It's just a bit fartherphys.

What you say couldn't be farther from the truth!  (a lie)   figurative distance

Stop!  Don't go any farther. Don't move.  phys.

Stop!  Don't go any farther. Don't tell me more gossip.  fig.

We're getting farther away from the main square.  phys.

We're getting farther away from the central idea.  fig.
 

ADVERB

I can't walk any fartherphys.

He walked farther down the street.  phys.

He leans farther "right" in his view of government.  fig.

FURTHER

Further is preferred by some speakers for physical distance and for figurative distance ("further from the truth"). Over time, the two words have undergone ¹differentiationAdditional studies will be needed in order to say more about the usage of these words in various English speaking communities.

ADJECTIVE

The shop is further down the road.  phys.

It's just a bit furtherphys.

What you say couldn't be further from the truth!  (a lie)   fig. 

Stop! Don't go any further.  Don't move. phys.

Stop! Don't go any further. Don't tell me more gossip. fig.

We're getting further away from the main square. phys. 

We're getting further away from the central idea. fig. 
 

ADVERB

I can't walk any further.    phys.

He walked further down the street. phys. 

He leans further "right" in his view of government. fig.
 

 

Farther and further are both comparative degrees of far in current use. The two words appear to have come from the same Middle English root (see Grammar Notes) with further being the older form of the two. ¹Over time, the two words have undergone ²differentiation

¹differentiation (n.) – a language process in which speakers shift the meaning of a word causing it to be different from the original.  (e.g. chief, chef)

farther/further (adjective) – occurs as a complement to "be" (It is further.) or as a modifier to a noun (The farther ball is yours.) or (He knocked the ball farther.) a post-position modifier.  Test for an adjective: If you can put "very" in front of the word (remove -er), then it is an adjective.  The very far ball is yours. → The farther ball is yours.

farther/further (adverb) – occurs as a modifier to a verb indicating relative distance. (He walked farther. / He walked much farther down the road.) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farther / Further

More, additional, extra

 

 

 

Additional

FARTHER

Farther is not used with the meaning of "more", "additional", or "extra".  As a verb, it is used with the meaning of " help" or "aid".

MORE / ADDITIONAL / EXTRA

*He will pursue farther education. 

 

Farther studies on the use of farther and further will need to be made.

*That's a farther reason for deciding now.

 

*Farther, I have no way of know how to solve this.  (linking adverb)

ASSIST / PROMOTE / HELP PROGRESS

*He will farther his education by attending college.

*We farthered their cause (project) with a large donation.

FURTHER

Further is used with a meaning of "more", "additional" "extended" or "extra". 

MORE / ADDITIONAL / EXTRA

He will pursue further education.   (adj. – additional, extra)

His remarks further strained relations between the companies. (adv. – additionally)

Further studies on the use of farther and further will need to be made.

That's a further reason for deciding now.   (adj.)

Do you have any further thoughts?   (adj.)

Further, I have no way of knowing how to solve this. (linking adverb)

 

ASSIST / PROMOTE / HELP PROGRESS

He will further his education by attending college.   (verb)

We furthered their cause (project) with a large donation. (verb)
 

 

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Farther / Further

 

 

 

Merriam-Webster on word origin.
Farther and further are historically the same word, so it is not surprising that the two have long been used more or less interchangeably.  Further is the older of the two; it appears to have originated as the comparative form of a Germanic ancestor of English forthFarther originated in Middle English as a variant of further that was influenced by the comparative (spelled ferre) of far (then spelled fer) which it (and further) eventually replaced.  So neither word was originally  connected with far, but gradually they have both become so. Fowler believed that most people did not use both terms… and the one that Fowler saw as usual was further. He therefore opined that further would eventually replace farther altogether. So far it has not. (Merriam Webster 430)

Fowler predicts "further" will win out as the dominant choice.
"On the whole… it is less likely that one [meaning or use] will be established for farther and further than that the latter will become universal." ( Burchfield (2000) quotes Fowler 1926) . 

Garner opines on "best usage".
Both are comparative degrees of far but they have undergone differentiation.  In the best usage, farther refers to physical distances, further to figurative distances… In BrEng, further is typically both physical and figurative, whereas, farther is physical only.  (Garner 346)

Farther  on the Language-Change Index.
Language-Change Index : Stage 4  "The form becomes virtually universal but is opposed on cogent grounds by a few linguistic stalwarts (die-hard snoots). (Garner p.XXXV)

Swan states it simply.
201 farther and further
  1 distance We use both farther and further to talk about distance. They mean the same. Edinburgh is farther/further away than York. 2 'additional' Further (but not farther) can mean 'additional', 'extra', 'more advanced'. "For further information see page 6. College of Further Education" (Swan 80)

 

 

 

Resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Hiking

Grand Canyon trail
 

 

Context for Practice 1

Last weekend, we drove to the Grand Canyon and decided to hike down the canyon to the river below.  We thought it would be justa few miles, but it turned out to be much ______ than we expected. Unfortunately, we only took two bottles of water.  Fortunately, there was a canteen ______ down the trail.

After two and a half hours we reached the river. The canyon was gorgeous with sparkling blue water and reddish cliffs. ______ , there was thick, green grass and wildlife by the river. We cooled ourselves in the cold, rapidly moving water and then put on our shoes to head back up.  As we looked up, we realized the top was much ______ than we realized. The descent (going down) was easy. The ascent (going up) would be much harder. ______ , we had taken no food with us and we were already starving. 

We headed up the trail and soon ran out of energy.  We willed one foot to go in front of the other.  After a while, we reached the canteen  where we bought lots of snacks for energy. We also received encouragement to______ our successful climb to the top of the rim. Just as the sun was setting, we reached the top of the canyon rim.  We talked ______ about our stupidity of having taken so little water and food with us. As we looked around, we saw several signs warning hikers not to descend into the canyon unless well equipped.  "Do not go any ______ unless you have…." How did we miss seeing those signs? We took no ______ hikes that weekend. We drove home a lot wiser than before.

After I returned home , I did some ____ reading. Apparently, a few people have died doing what we did!  We were fortunate.

 

 

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.

 

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    apparently (adv.) – it seems that

 
Don't try to do it in one day! Grand Canyon warningGrand Canyon multi language warning
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

The 49ers Move South

Proposed Santa Clara stadium
 

 

Read for Errors

In the selection of the new site for the San Francisco 49ers football stadium, the committee had to determine the best location for the new venue. The "Candlestick Park" stadium in South San Francisco needed major renovation. The proposed site in Santa Clara had more open space and possibilities for development.  The downside was that it was further from the team's home city.  As the committee continued its discussions, they became further caught up in commercial interests wanting to "join in" the project.  

Further studies had to be made in terms of environmental sustainability. In June of 2010, the voters of Santa Clara voted in favor of the stadium (Measure J). The venue will include a 68,500-seat football stadium suitable for football and soccer (potentially a FIFA World Cup). Further, it will be configured for special touring events including concerts, motocross events, and other community events.  People coming from farther way, especially from San Francisco, will be able to get to the new site by public transportation — train orbus.

 

The name "49ers" comes from the name given to the gold prospectors who arrived in Northern California around 1849 during the California Gold Rush.

 

Edit for errors

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.
11.
The downside was that it was further from the team's home city.


12.
As the committee continued its discussions, they became further caught up in commercial interests wanting to "join in" the project.


13.
Further studies had to be made in terms of environmental sustainability (i.e., solar roof, energy-saving lighting, public transportation, recycling, etc.).


14.
The venue will include a 68,500-seat football stadium suitable for football and soccer. Further, it will be configured for special touring events including concerts, motocross events, and other community events.


15.
People coming from FARTHER/ FURTHER way, especially from San Francisco, will be able to get to the new site by public transportation — train or bus (distance)