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Let's say the topic was words in a list, and the writer is referring to items "further down the list". I understand the basic difference between further and farther, but this one seems like it could be either. Would it be something like if he was referring to the actual piece of paper he was holding, or the position on a computer screen, it would be "farther", but if he was talking about choices in the list in a more general way it would be "further"?

Comments  

"Further" and "farther" have been used indisciminately by the best writers throughout history. One or the other is often favored in a fixed expression or common collocation, but other than that there is no rule, and the writer's ear has the final decision.Your quandary is just such a case, and it's your choice.

Still, if you always use "farther" for physical distance and "further" in figurative use, you won't go far wrong.

anonymousbut other than that there is no rule,

Only further is used in British English.

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anonymous
anonymousbut other than that there is no rule,

Only further is used in British English.

What do you mean?

anonymousWhat do you mean?

Farther vs. further


The distinction does not exist in the U.K. and elsewhere in the (British) Commonwealth of Nations, where further is preferred for all senses of the word and farther is rare.

https://grammarist.com/usage/farther-further/