former vs latter

Former vs Latter – What’s the difference?3 min read

Apart from Recurring and Reoccurring, two other words that most readers and writers find difficult to understand are “former vs latter”. These words can make you reread a sentence just to confirm the exact reference that is being made.

As you read through essays and assignments in school, you will find out that these two words are usually used when comparing two items. Former directs you to the first item in the sentence while Later gives reference to the second item.

Once you understand this, then it will be easier to differentiate the two words. As you read along in this article, I will explain more and help you understand the difference between them.

Former vs Latter

What is Former?

Former usually refers to the first item in the midst of two items. It could be a noun or an adjective depending on the context of usage.

On the other hand, former can also mean a previous role that someone held, which he/she is no longer holding now. Although former is an old English from the word “forma” meaning “first”, it still serves well in today’s English sentences.

Examples:

  • I owned a Benz and a Corolla, but the former is my best car when it comes to showing off. (Talking about the Benz)
  • A part of the house was made with a brick while a larger part, with wood, but the former is going out of vogue. (Talking about the brick)
  • Mr. James Fox was the former manager at St. Mark’s Restaurant. (2nd Meaning)
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Former vs Latter

What is Latter?

Latter is the opposite of former. It usually refers to the second item in the midst of two items. It could be a noun or an adjective depending on the context of usage. Let’s use the same examples of “former” to explain it.

Examples:

  • I owned a Benz and a Corolla but the latter is my best car when it comes to going for official duties. (Talking about the corolla)
  • A part of the house was made with a brick while a larger part, with wood, but the latter makes life easier. (Talking about the wood)

Former vs LatterHow to remember:

The best and easiest way to remember and differentiate these two words is:

  • Former can be remembered as the “First” item using the first letter “F”.
  • Latter can be remembered as the “Last” item using the first letter “L”.

Read this: Practise vs Practice: Which is correct?

NB:

On the other hand, while comparing “Former vs Latter“, always know that it can’t be used when comparing more than two items. It works perfectly for two items only. For example:

  • Even if you ask me to choose between Ice cream, meat pie or Hamburger, the former is what I find appetizing more than the latter. (WRONG)
  • The good thing I like about Jamie, Annie and Jack is that the former keeps his words while the latter takes everything into consideration. (WRONG)

This is wrong because you can’t use “Former and Latter” when comparing more than two items.

Awesome one, I hope this article answered your question.

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