understanding farther and further

You found a way to fit writing into your day. Every day, you’ve been pumping out word after word. Now, in the heat of a writing session, you get a brain freeze. Your character is being chased and needs to keep traveling, but you’re unsure whether she should go further or farther. If you don’t figure it out and start typing soon, the bad guys will catch up to your heroine, and—well, it won’t be pretty.

Unsure which to use and when? Here’s the quick answer.

Farther Is Physical

“I am humbled and excited by new opportunities for me to support and share the amazing work NASA is doing to help us travel farther into the solar system and work with the next generation of science and technology leaders.”—Scott Kelly

When you’re talking about physical distance in the physical world, you want farther, not further.

Just as you ask how far the beach is, you also ask how much farther away the beach is.

When someone is ahead of you in a race, that person is farther ahead. 

If you’ve not yet reached your vacation destination, you must go farther.

Quick tip: When something isn’t close to you, it’s far away. When there is more distance than you realized, it’s farther away. So, if you can rearrange the sentence to use the word far, use farther.

Further Is Metaphorical

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”—Isaac Newton

Talking big, heady ideas? Choose further, not farther.

If you plan to continue attending school after graduation, you will further your education.

When you talk with distant family members, your ideas may be further apart than you expected.

Liars may sound good, but the words they speak couldn’t be further from the truth.

Quick tip: Further indicates some bit of space you can’t see with your eyes. At a loss for which to use? If far doesn’t work in the sentence, use further. 

Want Farther or Further Information?

Some people hate nitpicky grammar, spelling, and word usage stuff. From farther and further to too, two, and too, we love it. It’s why we work to make sure your book is free of errors that drive grammar nerds batty. That’s not all we do. We also design your book so it looks just how you want it. Oh, and we’re here to answer any writing or publishing question you may have. Send your most pressing grammar/spelling/publishing questions our way.