Without Further Ado, Here’s A Reminder About When To Use ‘Farther’

Did the “White House intruder” make it further or farther than was first thought?

Despite what we’re hearing members of Congress say this morning or what has been said on our airwaves a couple times, the intruder made it farther than was first reported — not further.

Think of it this way:

If it’s clear you’re talking about distance, you’re focusing on how far someone or something has gone. Some grammarians say either word can be used, but the trend in recent decades has been to suggest that farther is the better word in such cases.

Further is the right word when you’re not discussing distance. For example: “Memmott always takes these grammar discussions further than he should.”

There are all sorts of situations where things aren’t so obvious. If you’ve read 25 more pages of a book than your partner, are you farther or further along? There’s a measurement involved, but it’s not a distance. The guidance in that case is to use further.

Listeners raised the further/farther issue. As some of our other recent notes about language underscore, some in the audience listen very carefully. We usually find they’re right to have been concerned:

– Listeners Are Begging Us To Bag ‘Begs The Question’

– Garnish? Garnishee? Garnisheed? We’re Not Buying Into This Parsleying Of Our Words

– I Won’t Lie To You, We Get Lay Wrong A Lot

– If You See An Adjective, Kill It — Or At Least Ask Whether It Should Be Allowed To Live

– The? Thee? Who Knew? A Listener, That’s Who

(Memmos; Sept. 30, 2014)

September 30, 2014

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