Former vs. Latter | Meaning, Examples & Difference
Former and latter are both used (with “the”) to refer to previously mentioned items in a list of two or more things. This is done to save space and reduce repetition.
- Former can be used to refer back to the first person or thing in a list. It can also be used to mean “previous” or to refer to a past state.
- Latter can be used to refer back to the last person or thing in a list. It can also be used to refer to a subsequent time or period.
|Examples: Former in a sentence
||Examples: Latter in a sentence
|I was offered soup or salad, and I chose the former.
||Norway and Italy are both beautiful, but the latter is much warmer.
|The former president is running for election again.
||He faced many difficulties in the latter half of his life.
The former and the latter
The former and the latter are noun phrases that stand in for the first and last item in a previously mentioned list. You always need to include the definite article “the.”
Other uses of former
Former can be used as an adjective to refer to a past state or status (often interchangeable with the prefix “ex-“). It can also be used to mean “previous.”
Other uses of latter
Latter can also be used as an adjective to mean “subsequent” or to refer to a later time or period.
Latter-day is an expression used to mean “present-day” or “modern.” It’s hyphenated and appears before the noun it modifies.
Worksheet: Latter vs. former
Test your knowledge of the difference between “former” and “latter” by using our practice worksheet below. Fill in either “former” or “latter” in each sentence.
- “The _______” is used to refer to the first item in a list.
- “The _______” is used to refer to the last item in a list.
- Tatiana is a _______ councilwoman who is active in local social projects.
- In the beginning, I didn’t like the book, but I found the _______ chapters really entertaining.
- Ahmad is a very talented painter. He’s like a _______-day Picasso.
- “The former” is used to refer to the first item in a list.
- “The former” is a noun phrase consisting of the definite article “the” and the noun “former.”
- “The latter” is used to refer to the last item in a list.
- “The latter” is a noun phrase consisting of the definite article “the” and the noun “latter.”
- Tatiana is a former councilwoman who is active in local social projects
- In this instance, “former” is used as an adjective referring to a previous status.
- In the beginning, I didn’t like the book, but I found the latter chapters really entertaining.
- In this instance, “latter” is used as an adjective to mean “subsequent.”
- Ahmad is a very talented painter. He’s like a latter-day Picasso.
- Here, the expression “latter-day” (meaning “modern”) is correct.
Other interesting language articles
If you want to know more about commonly confused words, definitions, and differences between US and UK spellings, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.
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