Do you say “more farther”?

rogersgeorge on August 17th, 2009

This one might be a losing battle, but your writing will be smoother if you get the distinction between “further” and “farther” right.

Further—to a greater extent in any sense but distance. If your sentence doesn’t make sense with “far” in it, use further. “They caused further delay by walking slowly.” This is more delay, not far delay, so “further” is correct.

(You also see “further” used as a verb, but that’s another topic.)

Farther—the comparative form of “far.” If your sentence could work with the word “far,” use farther, not further.”Their slow walking put then farther behind.” They are far behind, so “farther” is correct.

Sometimes the sense of “far” is metaphorical, and that’s when people start to use “further.” If “far” works, even metaphorically, using “farther” still makes a smoother sentence.  Here’s an example of this: ” They keep getting farther into debt.” In this sentence, both “far into debt” and “more into debt” make sense. Since “far” works, prefer that one.

Here’s a test—fill in the blank: “Your writing will take you ______________ if you follow my advice.”

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