What's the difference? とおく vs とおい

They both mean “far”, but are they used differently?

I could look this up to make sure, but I’ll be lazy and give it my best shot: とおく is an adverb, とおい is an adjective.

Someone who actually knows grammar can correct me if I just totally lied to you. But…as I recall, とおく is used when added on to another adjective/verb, while とおい is for nouns.

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WaniKani won’t teach you grammar. い adjectives can become adverbs by changing the い to く.

とおくいく
To go far

Why they chose to include this one adjective’s adverb conjugation is not entirely clear to me.

There are a bunch of ways to conjugate adjectives.

とおい adjective
とおく adverb
とおくない negative adjective
とおくて linking form
とおかった past tense adjective
とおければ conditional
とおかったら another conditional

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Although, I wonder why 遠く is labelled as a noun/の-adjective. Jisho elaborates that it’s an adverbial noun, but other adverbs of similar form are just listed as adverbs. Is 〇〇く+の some advanced grammar point? What’s special about 遠く?

Well, yeah actually とおく and ちかく have the additional noun functionality. So you can say この近く to mean “the nearby area”. Not all adjectives can do that.

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