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Commonly Confused Words: Father vs. Farther vs. Further


Happy Father’s Day! Make sure you spell ‘father’ correctly on your card this year.

What does father mean?

Father is the word used to describe a male parent. In Christianity, God is also sometimes referred to as the Father (usually as the first person in the Holy Trinity) and in some churches (particularly within Roman Catholicism), Father is a term of address for priests. As a verb, the word refers to a man creating a child.

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is father used in some example sentences:

  • My father’s favourite colour is yellow.
  • The boy didn’t know his father.
  • ‘In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,’ the vicar said.
  • Our priest is called Father John.
  • He fathered three children.

Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word father.

Do farther and further mean the same thing?

Further and farther are both used to describe something that is being extended or pushed to a more advanced stage. While some experts choose not to distinguish between the two words, and many people have been using the word interchangeably for centuries, there is a subtle difference you may wish to follow.

Farther is used to describe an extension of physical distance. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is farther used in some example sentences:

  • The rest stop was two miles farther than we expected.
  • You’ll find the lighthouse farther along the coast.

Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word farther.

Further, on the other hand, is used to describe an extension of metaphorical or figurative distance. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is further used in some example sentences:

  • She took a course as her manager said it would to help further her career.
  • His sister was further along in the Netflix series, so he warned her not to give him any spoilers.

Click here to find the Spellzone vocabulary lists related to the word further.

This distinction can become complicated when you’re not sure whether something is a physical distance or a figurative one. If you are unsure, use further.

Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between father, farther and further?

  • Farther had the word far in it – both words relate to distance. Imagine the following conversation between two people:
    • ‘How far is it?’ she asked.
    • Farther than you think,’ her friend replied.
  • When iFather’sn doubt, use further.
  • Father has the word fat in it. We’ll leave you to come up with your own mnemonic for this one – we don’t want to offend any dads on Farther's Day!

Where can I find other posts about easy-to-confuse words?

Sources: The Online Etymology Dictionary.


16 Jun 2018
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"This is a fantastic opportunity for our students!  I'm sure Spellzone will be invaluable in helping them to improve their spellings and therefore improve the quality of their writing in all subject areas!"
Teacher, High School, UK

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