The terms farther and further are sometimes used interchangeably by some writers because they both denote “at a greater distance.” However, there are different uses of the word further in which farther cannot be substituted. This post will help you determine which of these terms to use in a particular situation.
As an adjective, the word farther means “more distant in space than another item of the same kind.”
“Faster, Farther, More Frequent: Ultramarathon Runners Keep Pushing Limits”
New York Times
“When it comes to vacationing with these Guardians Of The Quirks, things can’t seem farther from right.”
“Then they lighten, and steam is visible rising from the coats of the horses at the farther side of the twenty-acre field.”
However, as an adverb, farther shares the same use as further which denotes “at, to, or by a greater distance,” indicating the extent to which one thing or person is or becomes distant from another.
“Developers in Montgomery County will pay more to build farther from transit, jobs”
“Indigenous in Mexico Take Consultation Farther Than Expected”
“Many New Orleans voters are still driving farther to vote than before Katrina”
Notice that even if you substitute the word further in the sentences above, they will still retain their meaning. However, there are several other uses for this term. As an adjective, further may mean “additional to what already exists or has already taken place, been done, or been accounted for.”
“Fitch: China Power Companies Face Further Margin Erosion in 2017”
“Further floods threaten travel chaos across Britain”
“Japan supports further sanctions against Russia”
Further may also be used as a verb meaning “to help the progress or development of something” or “to promote.”
“Trump’s Twitterfests are meant to further the culture wars that helped win him the presidency”
Los Angeles Times
“Mohammad Amir ‘should be free to further career’ says Essex chief executive”
“AHN announces $6M grant to further diabetes care”
Pittsburgh Business Times
An easy way to remember which word to use is to choose farther if you are talking about a physical distance while further is considered more appropriate to use when discussing metaphorical or figurative distance.