What’s the difference between `farther’ and `further’?

If you are talking about distance, the two words can be used synonymously.

Example: We need to drive ten miles further/farther to reach our destination.  * The injured man walked a little further/farther along the path before he found someone who could help him. * They tell me that Vijayawada is further/farther away than Hyderabad.

But in some contexts there is a difference between ‘farther’ and ‘further’.

While the  word `further’ can be used to mean `in addition’ or `more’, you cannot use `farther’ in such contexts.

Example:  If you wish to have further discussions, please meet me in my office. * The floods caused further damage to the old bridge. * I don’t think we should discuss this matter any further.

Source: S. Upendran, The Hindu ‘Know Your English’ Series, February 20, 2006

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