Further vs Farther: What’s the Difference?

by Liz Bureman | 72 comments

Free Book Planning Course! Sign up for our 3-part book planning course and make your book writing easy. It expires soon, though, so don’t wait. Sign up here before the deadline!

This weekend in Denver is apparently supposed to be b-e-a-utiful. Weather reports are calling for temperatures in the 60s and 70s, and it's going to be a great weekend to spend outside in the park. The only problem with this is that I'll be in Philadelphia during this amazing weather spot. It will not be in the 60s and 70s in Philly. It will be in the 40s. That's further than I'd like to be from those glorious spring temperatures.

Further vs Farther: What's the Difference_

Wait. Further? Or is it farther? What's the difference between further vs farther?

Further vs Farther

The difference between further and farther is the difference between physical distance or metaphorical distance. Farther is used for physical; further for metaphorical.

In the Lord of the Rings series, the journey to destroy the ring requires the hobbits to travel farther from the Shire than they've ever been before. After the Fellowship is formed, there is a great deal of further discussion about the ring itself.

See the difference?

Here's a quick and easy way to remember the two: the distance between two places can be far, and so is farther.

“How much further to Rohan?” asked Bill the horse. “Or is it farther to the Rohan?”
“You're an idiot,” said Jesse the horse.

The Vagaries of Further vs Farther

But wait! What if the kind of distance is ambiguous? What if your protagonist is a secret agent in training, and she's progressing faster through her training than anticipated? Is she going further or farther with her skills?

Guess what? It doesn't matter. If there are elements of both physical and metaphorical distance, then you can use either form of further/farther.

Isn't flexibility great?

How do you remember when to use further vs farther? Let us know in the comments!


Write a scene set in the spring using “further” and “farther” as much as you can. Once you've gotten your fifteen minutes down, post it in the comments and leave notes for your fellow writers.

Free Book Planning Course! Sign up for our 3-part book planning course and make your book writing easy. It expires soon, though, so don’t wait. Sign up here before the deadline!

Liz Bureman has a more-than-healthy interest in proper grammatical structure, accurate spelling, and the underappreciated semicolon. When she's not diagramming sentences and reading blogs about how terribly written the Twilight series is, she edits for the Write Practice, causes trouble in Denver, and plays guitar very slowly and poorly. You can follow her on Twitter (@epbure), where she tweets more about music of the mid-90s than writing.


  1. Mary Meyer

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your posts! It’s these little things that tend to trip us up. I love sharing your posts with my 17 year old daughter who is an aspiring journalist/creative writer because if someone else besides mom says it, it must be right! 🙂

    • Joe Bunting

      I love that you’re sharing them with your daughter, Mary. Thanks so much!

  2. plumjoppa

    They had already climbed farther up the mountain gorge than Mary had expected when the conversation, about the useful application of bananas in health class, had gone further than she desired. Her daughter had described the banana lab in
    further detail, and wanted to know if it was anything like the real thing. At this point, Mary suggested going even farther up the trail.

    She puffed farther ahead of her daughter even though her chest was burning in the cool mist. She silently cursed the books that encouraged open discussion with teenagers. Had the authors of those books actually been trapped on a mountain ledge with a curious teenager, who is embarrassed about nothing, and in need of further information? Why hadn’t she signed the school form to get her out of health class when she had the chance?

    “Mom, is it the same or not?” her daughter called up the hill, and then stretched her stride farther to catch up.

    Mary’s calves were burning, but she pushed farther up the slippery gorge trail.

    “It’s just a little farther,” Mary puffed.

    “Mom! Is it or not?”

    “I’m thirsty, aren’t you? Remember the snack shop at the top?”

    Mary reached a rock landing and could go no farther. She bent over and clutched her thighs, with her hair flopped into her face. Her daughter sat down next to her, and reached up to part Mary’s hair so she could see her eyes, and push the conversation further.

    “Mother, you’re avoiding the question.”

    • eva rose

      Great descriptions of the hike! Time for a banana break! Good use of the graammar too.

    • plumjoppa

      Thanks Eva! Ha Ha, why didn’t I think of them having bananas for a snack?

    • Jay Warner

      you capture your characters well in this short piece. Good use of further and farther, too! Do they make it to the top and get to that snack shop?

    • plumjoppa

      Thanks for the kind comments. I think they will make it!

    • Giulia Esposito

      Sounds like this mom needs a stiff drink before she can answer these questions! I enjoyed her avoidance of the topic.

    • plumjoppa

      Thank you! Maybe the drink will be waiting at the top.

    • Curtis Beaird

      plum. I’m still laughing. Don’t throw this one away. You could re-work it into a really funny piece.

  3. Eva Rose

    As day breaks I check the glossy, blue/brown ceramic pot on the steps of the deck. In December I planted mail-order bulbs: tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocuses with high hopes of a fiesta of springtime color. I spaced the bulbs father apart from their cousins to balance the bouquet. Ah, some green heads emerged, then a few leaves! Three months later a sunny splash of yellow daffodils lifted my spirits in the otherwise bleak and bare-branched garden. Anticipation heightens as we progress further into spring and the touches of lavender and pink fill my little sanctuary. Just a bit of color transforms a winter-weary soul.

    • Jay Warner

      I like your attention to detail and the colorful descriptions. This feels like a painting in words.

    • eva rose

      Thanks, Jay. May rework it into a poem!

    • Jessica

      This would sound beautiful as a poem. 🙂

  4. Jay Warner

    “Couldn’t be further from the truth,” Mack said, leaning back until his chair was on two legs. Joe didn’t think the chair could get much farther from the floor, but Mack was making a good case for toppling over on his back at any moment. If Heather was here she would bet on how long it took Mack to fall over, Joe thought to
    himself. To Mack he said, “It’s the truth, you were farther away from the club than any of us could have foreseen. How can you expect to further your career?”

    Mack smiled and jiggled his chair a little on its two legs. “Farther than you? “ He declined to say anything further.

    Joe was frustrated. Since this conversation was going no further, he got up from the table intending to move farther away from Mack and into the hall where he could compose himself. He paced behind the table like a caged cat waiting to pounce should Mack decide to say anything else. Mack set his chair back down on
    four legs with a thud and pushed the entire table farther away from him. He wanted nothing further to do with Joe or Heather, the club, or the whole messy scene. What he really wanted was to move into the farthest corner of the room
    he could and roll up in a ball, retreating further into himself. He didn’t like being drilled like this.

    “I’m quitting, Joe.” Mack said. He looked up as Joe stopped pacing and stood still. “I’m moving farther away from this town and making a new life in a new city.

    “Where are you going?” Joe asked. He hadn’t anticipated this turn of events.

    “Further down the road. Farther down the road. Which is it, Joe? Further or farther?”

    “Do you really mean it? It would be farther. Are you just supposing? It would be further. But it doesn’t really matter anyway does it? You are a lot further along in the thought process than I anticipated. When can I expect your resignation?”

    “Let me think on it”, Mack said. He leaned back in this chair again, balancing on two legs this time a little too far. The legs slid out from under him and the chair tipped over completely, knocking Mack to the floor on his rear end.

    “I thought the floor was a little farther than it was,” he said sheepishly, rubbing his behind as he sat on the floor.

    Joe laughed.

    • Davide Aleo

      Great practice! Love the way you write..and I really love the way you’ve found to use further and farther so many times!

    • Jay Warner

      Thank you so much, you give me inspiration to keep going.

    • plumjoppa

      Along with using further/farther, you also made your characters genre saavy, which was a writepractice exercise a few months ago. Nice job

    • Jay Warner

      thanks for pointing this out, I wasn’t aware I had done that, but now that you bring it up, I see it.

    • Curtis Beaird

      You nailed “further” and “farther” every time. I guess I have nothing further to say. 🙂 Good job!

    • Jay Warner

      thanks! I am somewhat of a grammarophile (is there such a word?)

    • Jessica

      I agree with Davide Aleo. Brilliant use of both words so often, but it doesn’t sound like you’re overusing either.

    • Jay Warner

      thank you, this means a lot to me.

  5. Davide Aleo

    “The Irish countryside flies fast under him. The short grass is green and move slowly, as was the gentle hand of the wind to caress her.

    The pick up darts on a dilapidated road, similar to a dirt road in the mountains. The strip of dirt and rocks, climbing up one of the highest cliffs of the south coast. The landscape is beautiful, the wind blowing a discreet companion from afar, less strong than expected.

    You would not think that it is early afternoon in that country so farther from Stephen’s home. The sun lingers behind great new gray, with vague bluish shades. Of those that make you dream away and boost the imagination of the viewer.

    The wheels of the pick up black finally stop, not farther from the edge of the craggy coast. Stephen goes out of the vehicle, throwing the jacket on the back seat, remaining with a simple shirt and a pair of faded jeans. Is at pains to raise up the volume of the CD player of the pick up, before starting.

    With one hand she ruffles his hair ebony, while the wind pushes him gently towards the eadland. The loud noise of the waves crashing goes out to all of the songs coming from the machine. The Celtic Woman* give voice to ancient and distant legends, and Stephen gets lulled by the distant sound as if they were the sirens to tempt him with their voices of lost stories.

    It has now reached the coast, and reveals what he had in his hand a sketch pad and a pencil.
    Inhale slowly, and with closed eyes let his mind early magic. It seems to follow the rhythm of the waves just below him, while the imagination travels further. Ancient and arcane worlds, away from reality and yet so close to his heart. The Celtic Woman almost lost in the wind, which would sweep away their voice idyllic. Stephen struggles to hold onto him those notes.

    A flute begins his spell. A violin from further follows him, to give harmony in this place so magical atmosphere. From further, ancient stories come to him, stories of people and deeds summoned from his memory and his imagination, while the pencil portrays this idyll.

    Shades of gray crashing on leaves untouched when the waves are climbing on the rocks below. The noise of the pencil is weak, as is the sound of musical notes. The murmur of the wind is mild. Yet, giving life to a concert expected. Stephen came from farther just to evoke the scene.

    Away from this hill is likely would never have created this masterpiece. Must remember to thank the wind, the waves, the gentle grass and the Irish group for helping him to sprout the seed of imagination and inspiration.

    The landscape has recreated the sheets beauty is so rare that it seems to come from a remote location, very farther from here. And maybe that’s it, even if it is his mirage. A place far away, that find a home in this Irish landscape”.

    *Celtic Woman is a female vocal ensemble that performs a mix of Celtic, New Age, and adult contemporary music

    • Giulia Esposito

      This piece is full of beautiful images David. Great practice!

    • plumjoppa

      Your piece makes me want to check out Celtic Woman!

    • Davide Aleo

      I suggest it to you!

    • Curtis Beaird

      “Must remember to thank the wind, the waves, the gentle grass …” Agreed. And, if you don’t mind I would like to include the “flute (that) begins his spell.” Very nice.

    • Davide Aleo

      Haha I forgot the flute;) anyway, thanks a lot!

    • Jay Warner

      It is very interesting how you use landscape to change the perspective. We start in close with the grass, then move out to the wider view, then again to the wheels and Stephen, then wide again to the cliffs, then narrow in to the pen and the music. It works very well and helps the reader to see both the larger picture that inspires him and the minute details that keep us grounded in the story. I can see everything clear in my mind when I read it. Keep writing.

    • Davide Aleo

      Thanks a lot!! Very glad to read your reply..thanks, it motivates me!

  6. Donna S. Fernandez

    So enjoy this site. Reinforced learning at its best. Keep up the good work, even if you’ll be farther from home.

    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks Donna!

  7. Giulia Esposito

    The child sat with anger in her heart. She was angry, but she was too young to understand she was hurt too. Her mother was mean and since her mother was mean, she was going to run away. The child put on her raincoat, with no further thought to where she was going than leaving the home where her mother lived. She’d make to the end of the street, she was sure. Farther than that, she feared to think of. Would she be brave enough to pass Joey’s house? To turn on the crescent that would bring her to Sandra’s street? She had never gone so far before alone. She rushed out, looking up at the grey sky as she made her way to the end of the driveway. Her eyes fell on the bags of topsoil her father had bought. for planting. “We’ve going to dig out the flower bed farther along the fence here,” he’d said. If she ran away, she couldn’t help with the planting. The child thought of this as she jumped into several puddles on the road in front of her house. The water splashed onto her cotton white tights, and she thought about going back inside to put on her rain boots. All her things were inside. Her favourite Barbies, that her mother had bought her for her birthday. She jumped in another puddle, her anger receding further and further away. Mommy wasn’t so mean, the child felt in her heart. Splish, splash, her runners were thoroughly soaked now. There was no point going any father than she was, the child decided, her feet were cold.

    • plumjoppa

      You did a nice job conveying the child’s POV through the descriptions of what matters to her.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Thank you plum 🙂 It was something I was consciously trying to do.

    • Curtis Beaird

      Delicate. Very delicate. In the telling you managed the voice of a child. That child. In the telling you showed us the way through anger and hurt. And, a little child shall lead them. I read that somewhere.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Thank you for this praise Curtis.

    • Jay Warner

      Curtis is right, you nailed the voice of the child. Not always easy to do.

    • Giulia Esposito

      It probably helps that I work with children. Spend six hours a hour for ten years with little souls, and they will change yours. The world is a lot simpler, a lot smaller than we sometimes think.

    • Davide Aleo

      Great piece.. love the simplicity and spontaneity of your text..

    • Jessica

      I can just see the little girl in my mind, having no clue that she’s contemplating going further or father, just deciding in the end not to. Very nice. 🙂

    • Giulia Esposito

      Thanks! Glad everyone is enjoying it.

    • Jay Warner

      I like the way you turned this into a little mini story. We can feel the whole arc of beginning, middle, and end, with the child going from anger to action to turning point (what she would miss if she left) and then resolution. You know the next step will be her return to the house. Quite an accomplishment for a little grammar exercise.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Thanks Jay! That wasn’t something I was entirely conscious of doing as much as I was trying to focus on the child’s feelings and weave in the further/farther. I’m glad for all the feedback people have been providing, it’s good to know people are resonating with at least some of what I write.

  8. Curtis Beaird

    It was further than I thought between snow and blooms, between ice and cucumbers, between the gray chill and a Robins song. They do sing don’t they? Like the Chipping Sparrows and Larks. Like the Swallows and Thrushes. They do sing don’t they?

    It was farther than I thought from weeds to grass, from twisted leaves, fallen and brown to yellow bloomed Lantana bright and proud.

    It was further than I thought.

    It was farther than I thought from one tilt of terra firma to the other. A farther that took longer than I realized for Mother Earth to lean her way closer to the sun. Closer to the warmth that wakes life again and brings on the milkweed, that green home to the caterpillar that become the Monarch.

    It was further than I thought.

    • plumjoppa

      Nice poetic flow to this. I especially like the imagery of ice and cucumbers . Having lived in climates where winter seems to last forever, I can relate to this.

    • girlonaswing

      Curtis, Your response to this challenge found me returning repeatedly throughout the day for a fresh glimpse. You made me wonder! Summer turns to autumn here. I tried to write about spring, tried to cast my mind further back through the seasons, tried to take my creativity farther. Then I read your piece and felt satisfied by you words. No needed to go any further with my own writing but rather enjoy the escape to a country farther away…(not sure if I’ve got the grammar right but I certainly enjoyed your writing). Thank you Clare

    • Giulia Esposito

      Oh, very nice. The careful attention to further/farther was a nice play on the meaning I thought.

    • Steve Stretton

      Lovely, very poetic. I liked the imagery, you clearly see the enjoyment of the season.

    • Jay Warner

      Beautiful images, it flows like poetry. I love your use of repetition. It kept me grounded as I flitted from image to image like one of the birds in your piece. I really like your style.

  9. Jessica

    Obviously, still working on doing two things at once in my writing. I really felt my POV slipping here:

    She ran. She sprang. She jumped. It was a vault into the air! Time turned to slow motion, and her body sliced through the wind like never before. Large bits of confetti went flying everywhere as her feet landed with a soft explosion.

    “I did it! Oh look, Mom, I did it! I jumped farther today than I have all winter! I’m so excited!”

    Mom looked up from the book she was reading. “Um-hum. You’ll win the candy jumping contest with no problem tomorrow, Sweetie.”

    Katie hopped over to her mom. “Can you set up the papers again for me? That was twelve. I want to see if I can jump over fifteen.”

    Katie’s mom set her book down and squatted to help realign the papers. They were just pieces of construction paper, cut out the same size as the candy wrappers. However many candy bars Katie could jump over tomorrow, that’s how many she got to bring home.

    “You know Katie, I think this warmer weather we’ve been having the past few days has helped limber up your joints. You’ve been able to push yourself further by practicing outside. There, I think that’s fifteen papers.” Katie’s mom stood back and cheered Katie on.

    The next morning, as Katie lined up with the other children for her turn at jumping, her mom chatted with the principal. He pointed at Katie’s animated conversation with her friend and smiled.

    “She’s come so much further than I first anticipated. Katie has really blossomed here,” he told her.

    Katie’s mom nodded. “Principal, I just wanted to say thank you for all your help. Having her at this school means a farther commute, but I think it’s been worth it.”

  10. Beck Gambill

    I’ve been teaching my son 3rd grade grammar this year (he’s homeschooled) and it’s amazing what I’m learning! Last week was the difference between further and farther, as well as simile and metaphor.

  11. Steve Stretton

    Still not entirely sure, feel free to correct it.

    Dear Sir,

    Further to your letter of the thirteenth, I agree, the delights of spring are a joy to behold. We are farther away from it than yourselves, being at the beginning of autumn, but further reminders of that delightful time are most welcome. I see you are prepared to further our mutual interest by driving farther apart our opponents. I do not say enemies, that could not be farther from the reality. They are merely opponents to be overcome. Can I say your description of your season of melting snow, bright spring sunshine and emerging wildflowers couldn’t be farther from our sweltering late summer heat and wilting flora. But enough of such pleasantries, I drift ever farther from the matter at hand. We must co-operate even further to further our mutual goal of world domination. And the more we co-operate the farther will our opponents drift apart as we split their puny alliances. I look forward to further conversations with you. Roll on spring.

    Yours faithfully,

    • Jay Warner

      Nice use of the the letter form to frame your writing exercise. I can feel you exploring the use of the words “farther” and “further”. My suggestion would be to watch pronoun agreement and punctuation. Otherwise good!

  12. Eyrline Morgan

    To get to be where I want to be is further or farther than I can imagine at this time. What do we want to do about downsizing everything to get just what we need into a one bedroom apartment. We need further discussions about our decisions. We don’t want to be farther away from my mother at this time. She will be 105 in May and we would like many further visits with her. Our illnesses keep us from going farther in our plans to move into assisted living. The plans are to downsize everything we have to just what we need. It’s further or farther away from where I can imagine right now. We need a written plan to further our progress, or to go farther in making decisions about what to keep and what to donate and what to sell. This may be our last move. We’d like to travel farther than Oklahoma City for vacations eventually, but our health strength needs further improvements. Like the song goes, “Where do I begin,” seems to be where we are at this time. To get farther down the road, we need to make further intelligent decisions. Thankfully, we have a Social Worker walking us through this to make getting farther along in our planning. It’s early morning and it has taken all of the fifteen minutes to get this far.

    • Jay Warner

      A very introspective writing exercise. I can feel you exploring the use of the two words “farther” and “further”.

  13. Kate Hall

    Thanks for making this so easy to remember!

    • Giulia Esposito

      Yes, I like the neat far (farther) trick as well!

  14. Andy Steven

    It seemed as every day passed, the each skull wall spread farther and farther apart. His ideas expanded, furthering his passion and fanaticism. “Look no further!”, he screamed. His home on the corner scared many, and scattered them looking for a calm place farther down the street. Spit sat sitting frothy on his lips, traveling farther down his chin as his belief continued further down the path of extremism.

    The tumor was found as he aged further. It pushed him on further to insanity, as his mind began to further crumble. His clothes soon became rags, his hair a dirt-filled bird’s nest, as he was pushed farther and farther from the city by its citizens. By himself he lingered, far outside of the city, on the outskirts of the suburbs in a make-shift shelter he had made from other’s throw-outs. Here he laid down his gigantic head, which, despite leading him further and further from society, never stopped loving the people that pushed him out to nothingness.

    • Giulia Esposito

      What a sad reality for this man.

  15. Michelle Eades

    Love the clarity on this ~ thank you. Now I think about those two words so much more than before. LOL.

  16. Ashok Anbalan

    Very well written. Thanks for this post Liz.

    It’s easy to overlook the difference between the two words.

  17. Lori Williams

    I am enjoying the ‘write practice’ I have learned so much over the past few months. I decided to print out the emails so I can go back to them for reference. Wow, I never thought about these two words until now!

  18. Sandy

    Fantastic explanation! Me too I’m enjoying the “write practice” .

  19. Jinaya

    Wow this explanation got to me in no time. Awesome.

  20. Đêm Yên Tĩnh

    It is great that I can improve myself, I will try to write and practice as you suggest. thank you

  21. Azure Darkness Yugi

    This post is gong to be so helpful.

  22. Gary G Little

    Ah ha … so tis not an Atlantic thing. Da Brits don’t say farther where us Yanks would say further, nor do they say further when we would say farther. Further or farther tends to be the query to ponder with Father.

    But if it tain’t further can we then say farther? Or must we journey farther along the path to further the differences between farther and further? I do then further the thought that it is not the same as grey or gray. There the difference can be furthered by simply typing græy.

    So perhaps we need a collision of ‘a” and ‘u’ or, how about simply saying f’rther to then father a new type face.

  23. John Grumps Hamshare

    Thanks, Liz. So far so good. Or should that be ‘So fur so good?’ Ther by hangs a tale.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Say Yes to Practice

Join over 450,000 readers who are saying YES to practice. You’ll also get a free copy of our eBook 14 Prompts:

Popular Resources

Books By Our Writers

Surviving Death
- Sarah Gribble
Under the Harvest Moon
- Tracie Provost
The Girl Who Broke the Dark
- Evelyn Puerto
Share to...