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Forth vs. Fourth: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 29, 2024
Forth is an adverb meaning "forward" or "onward," while fourth is an ordinal number indicating position after the third.

Key Differences

Forth is primarily used as an adverb, denoting a movement or direction away from a point of reference. It implies progression, advance, or continuation in time or space. For example, "The explorer moved forth into the unknown territory," suggests a movement forward. In contrast, Fourth is an ordinal numeral that follows third. It is used to denote position or rank in a sequence. For instance, "She finished fourth in the race," indicates her position in that sequence.
In terms of etymology, forth stems from Old English, embodying a sense of forward motion or outward direction. It is often used in phrases like "back and forth" to denote movement in opposite directions. Whereas, Fourth originates from the same Old English root as the number four, used to describe sequence or order. This word is typically used in contexts like dates, rankings, or series, such as "July Fourth" or "the fourth chapter."
Grammatically, forth functions as an adverb, modifying verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs, giving a sense of movement or progress. For example, "The rumor spread forth across the town," where it modifies the verb 'spread'. Fourth, on the other hand, is an adjective, qualifying nouns. It is used to indicate the sequence of a noun in a series, like in "his fourth attempt."
The usage of forth often carries a metaphorical or abstract connotation, suggesting progression in non-physical contexts, such as "putting forth an idea." In contrast, fourth is concrete and specific, denoting a fixed position in a countable series. It is precise and numerical, as in "her fourth birthday."
In literature, forth can be poetic or archaic, used for dramatic or stylistic effect. It's seen in expressions like "and so forth," implying continuation. Fourth lacks this stylistic nuance and is straightforwardly used in practical, everyday contexts to indicate order, as in "the fourth option."

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech

Adjective (Ordinal Number)


Forward or onward motion
Position after the third

Usage Context

Movement, direction, progress
Sequence, order, ranking

Example Usage

"Go forth and conquer."
"She was the fourth runner to finish."


Can be metaphorical or literal
Primarily literal and specific


Old English 'forð'
Old English 'feorða'

Syntactic Role

Modifies verbs or adjectives
Qualifies nouns

Common Phrases

"Back and forth"
"Fourth of July"

Numerical Significance

Indicates number four in a sequence

Forth and Fourth Definitions


Out into view or existence.
The flowers came forth in spring.


Ordinal number following third.
She lives on the fourth floor.


Forward in direction or place.
He stepped forth onto the stage.


In fourth place in a sequence or series.
He was fourth in line.


From a particular point or source.
The command came forth from the king.


Date, the day after the third.
Independence Day is on July fourth.


Into a noticeable state or condition.
His anger burst forth unexpectedly.


Fraction, one of four equal parts.
A fourth of the cake was eaten.


Outward in time; from now on.
From this day forth, I will try harder.


Music: an interval of four scale degrees.
The melody moves to a fourth.


Forward in time, place, or order; onward
From this time forth.


Is forth used in modern English?

Forth is used, often in formal or literary contexts.

Can forth be used metaphorically?

Yes, forth can have metaphorical uses.

Can fourth denote time?

Yes, as in "July Fourth."

Does forth always imply physical movement?

Not always; it can be abstract or metaphorical.

What is a common phrase using forth?

"Back and forth" is a common usage.

Does fourth only relate to numbers?

Primarily, but it can have other uses like in music intervals.

Is there a noun form of forth?

No, forth is primarily an adverb.

Is fourth used in mathematics?

Yes, for sequence or fractions.

What part of speech is forth?

Forth is an adverb.

Can forth be a verb?

No, it's typically an adverb.

Does fourth have a related noun?

Yes, the noun form is "fourth" (as in one-fourth).

What part of speech is fourth?

Fourth is an ordinal adjective.

Is forth old-fashioned?

Somewhat, but still in use for specific expressions.

Is fourth always numerical?

Mostly, but it can denote order in non-numerical contexts.

How is fourth different from third?

Fourth follows third in sequence or order.

Are forth and fourth interchangeable?

No, they have distinct meanings and uses.

Can fourth be used figuratively?

It's usually used in a literal sense.

Can forth start a sentence?

Yes, it can start a sentence or clause.

Does forth imply a direction?

Yes, it implies forward or outward direction.

Can fourth be used in sports?

Yes, to indicate position or ranking in a competition.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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