A step farther/further

NLmarkSE

Senior Member
Dutch (the Nederlands)
I was just watching this latest news report about a 9/11 hijacker on CNN. After a short introduction, CNN journalist Deborah Feyerick says the following:
"However, Moussaoui [the hijacker] takes it a step farther, claiming that [...]"

She's talking about "old claims that have so far been debunked," but now this Moussaoui guy has made even more extreme claims.

So, since she's not talking about actual physical steps, but about "taking it one step farther (further?)" --claiming that things were even worse than that the US government previously suspected--, shouldn't she have said "one step further instead"?

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  • NLmarkSE

    Senior Member
    Dutch (the Nederlands)
    Thanks, but then why the distinction? I would say that e.g. "ask for farther information" is just plain wrong. Why is it OK in this case?
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    It is not just this case. This "rule" has relaxed dramatically. Many native speakers are entirely unaware of it. As a result, it is worth knowing for English grammar tests but you will spend your life as a frustrated reader if you get upset each time you see "farther" used for "further". :)
     

    NLmarkSE

    Senior Member
    Dutch (the Nederlands)
    It is not just this case. This "rule" has relaxed dramatically. Many native speakers are entirely unaware of it. As a result, it is worth knowing for English grammar tests but you will spend your life as a frustrated reader if you get upset each time you see "farther" used for "further". :)
    Thanks, but by "relaxed" do you mean it's OK to mix them up in casual conversations, like the one on CNN, or do you mean that it would also be OK to write taking it one step farther" in a newspaper article or a novel?

    I understand that during casual conversations no sane person would care (like who, whom), but I just want to know whether it's correct or not.

    Would you say that what she said is wrong, whether you care or not, or that it's a correct way of using "farther"?
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    As the OED puts it
    In standard English the form farther is usually preferred where the word is intended to be the comparative of far, while further is used where the notion of far is altogether absent; there is a large intermediate class of instances in which the choice between the two forms is arbitrary.
     

    tunaafi

    Senior Member
    English - British (Southern England)
    there is a large intermediate class of instances in which the choice between the two forms is arbitrary.
    I'd say that 'one step f#rther' is covered by that.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Thanks, but then why the distinction? I would say that e.g. "ask for farther information" is just plain wrong. Why is it OK in this case?
    If the intended meaning is "additional" only further can be used (as in furthermore, and further information). Otherwise, further and farther can be used interchangeably, relating to physical or metaphorical distance or extent. Further discussion can be found here and at the other threads linked therein.
     
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