The Remedy of the Week: Farther or further?

Each week proofreader Hannah Jones discusses and offers a remedy to common problems we encounter when writing. Today she explains the difference between farther and further, and when each should be used.

Farther or further?

Both farther and further may be used to mean 'at, to, or by a greater distance' (Oxford English Dictionary). They are equally correct and can be used interchangeably in examples such as these:

How much further is it?

I can't walk any farther.

Mary had travelled much further than John.

The toy shop is farther away than the bakery.

Farther and further can also be used interchangeably as adjectives meaning 'more distant in space':

They needed to go to the farther side of town.

Mary stood at the further end of the road.

Further uses of further!

However, in many metaphorical or abstract senses where there is no notion of physical distances, only further is used:

Allow to simmer for a further five minutes.

Further to our telephone conversation, I am writing to confirm the booking details.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce Mr. Bloggs!

Have you anything further to say?

Further may also be used as a verb meaning 'to promote or advance (something)':

She is determined to further her cause.

John hoped it would help him further his career.

Hannah Jones is a professional freelance proofreader and owner of The Remedy of Errors.

Visit her website at The Remedy of Errors. She can also be found on Twitter @remedyoferrorsFacebook and LinkedIn.