So I’m either obsessed with linguistic pedantry or else I’m just a stickler. Either way, post-Wicked last night Jenn and I had yet another discussion on words and their meanings and usages.
Up for grabs in last night’s winner-gets-nothing roundtable: Further and Farther
At first glance, the two seem pretty interchangeable. We easily talked ourselves in circles, weakening our vowels until the two words sounded virtually identical.
Here was our final agreement:
- Farther: used in denoting a difference in distance between two concrete objects
- Further: a comparative for ideas and not objects
Think Grover and his “Neeee-ar….. Far” comparisons or something declarative like “Chicago is farther from Miami than Atlanta.”
Upon further review
Nothing could be further from the truth
I’ll admit to not using the internet as crutch until …. just now.
Here’s how we scored: PERFECT!
- Some authorities (like the Associated Press) insist on â€œfartherâ€ to refer to physical distance and on â€œfurtherâ€ to refer to an extent of time or degree, but others treat the two words as interchangeable except for insisting on â€œfurtherâ€ for â€œin addition,â€ and â€œmoreover.â€ Youâ€™ll always be safe in making the distinction; some people get really testy about this.
- FARTHER denotes physical advancement in distance.
FURTHER denotes advancement to greater degree, as in time.
- Farther refers to length or distance. It is the comparative form of the word far when referring to distance.
Further means “to a greater degree,” “additional,” or “additionally.” It refers to time or amount. It is the comparative form of the word far when meaning “much.”
Well, mostly perfect. My word choice is a bit sketchy and I’m no Webster (so, clearly, I need both a dictionary AND a thesaurus for Christmas), but my internal barometer for the usage was spot-on.
Word nerds, FTW!