Further Vs. Farther – Editing & Proofing Tip

Okay, time for another editing hints and tips blog. One of the common errors I see when reading things around the internet and sometimes when I’m editing fiction pieces for clients/authors, I find the improper use of ‘further’ and ‘farther’.

This one, unlike some confusing words, is a really easy ‘fix’ to remember. While some editors will tell you these words are interchangeable, and they kind of are, there is a way to differentiate them.

Farther is a word that has the small word ‘far’ in it. Thus, ‘farther’ tells you how ‘far’ something is, in actual distance that is or could be measurable. You can replace ‘farther’ with the following phrases: ‘many more mile’ ‘many more feet’ ‘many more inches’ or some other measurable phrase.

Further, however, is more of a metaphorical distance, not a measurable one. Further can often be replaced with the words: ‘additional’ or ‘more’.

Example:

How much farther is it down this hallway?

The distance down the hallway, while not being measured specifically, COULD be measured, and therefore, the choice is ‘how far’… farther.

Example:

He didn’t know how much further she would continue to push his patience.

She can’t physically push patience any distance that we can measure, therefore, the choice is ‘further’.

It’s that simple. Farther is real distance and further is metaphorical distance–one can be measured, the other cannot.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Love and stuff,
Michy

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More grammar and editing hints and tips are available to you in this classic book by Lynne Truss–Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation