Saturday, March 13, 2010

Farther / Further

This is a distinction you may find yourself coming back here to review.

Farther refers to physical distance:  Los Angeles is farther from New York than from Chicago.  I walked farther today than I did yesterday.

Further refers to time, degree or metaphorical distance:  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Let's look into this further. The harder I try, the further behind I seem to get.

The same rules apply to farthest and furthest:  Five miles is the farthest I can run in one session.   That's the furthest thing from my mind.

Occasionally, it isn't quite so easy to decide which word to use:  I read further into my new book today.  Did I get through more pages, so it's a physical distance?  Or did I get further into the story, which is a figurative distance?  The good news is that when the distinction isn't clear, most authorities say it's okay to use either. 

Most of the time, however, you can tell pretty easily if you're writing about an actual distance or not.  You'll sound like a grammar pro if you use these two words correctly!


  1. Bliss,
    I am so glad you commented on my blog so I could find yours! I love what you are doing here. Love it! (But now I feel I must be very grammatically correct.) Oh well, if I am not correct, you shall forgive me and correct me kindly, yes?

    Great blog!

  2. Good record, I keep coming back to your posts and reading them when I get stuck.

    And Rachael says, "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain." Don't know what that is about, you will have to call her so she can explain. Notice my period is in the quotation mark though!

  3. I have a question that you might address in a blog post, Bliss. Whenever I type "children's" with an apostrophe to show possession, my spell check underlines it. When I click it to get the right spelling they only give the word children or other child-words.

    So when there is a plural word like children and you wish to show possession like The Children's Library, are we right to add the apostrophe s or not? I'm thinking of men's club or women's society. Is this one like its?


  4. Just popping in to say hello. Hope you had an exciting weekend. Okay, hope you get some excitement sometime as I know what you did do this weekend!

    Get to proofreading!

  5. Where's the submit questions box?

    Every year at Christmas time, when I get out my list, I wonder how to write to the plural form of Edwards, Huiskes, etc. Without writing "Edwards family."
    How do I do it?

  6. Hey, MS/AC Fan -- glad to finally reach you to clarify your question!

    When a proper name ends in -es or -z, add -es to make it plural. Huiskeses looks awkward, but is correct.

    When the name ends in -s with no e before it, don't add anything -- so the whole Edwards clan is referred to as the Edwards.

    And if you can tell me how to add a "submit questions" box, I will most certainly add one! Would love to add a link to an email address, too.

  7. I like the addition of your e-mail for questions. Excellent :)

    And now I'm all set for my Christmas cards to the Edwards and Huiskeses :)