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Latter vs. Former: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
"Former" refers to the first of two things mentioned, while "latter" refers to the second.
Latter vs. Former

Key Differences

The word "former" is used to denote the first of two items or subjects mentioned in a discussion or text, implying it precedes the other in order or mention. Conversely, "latter" refers to the second of the two items, indicating it follows the first in sequence. Both terms are essential in distinguishing between two elements in a comparison or narrative.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023
In usage, "former" often introduces or refers back to an earlier mentioned concept, whereas "latter" is used to highlight a more recent or the last mentioned of two concepts. Both terms are relational and their meanings are defined by their position in a sentence or discussion.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023
When describing events or entities in a historical or sequential context, "former" is associated with the earlier or oldest, while "latter" is linked to the more recent or last mentioned. This distinction is crucial for clear chronological narration or explanation.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023
In legal and formal writings, "former" and "latter" are frequently employed to avoid repetition when referring to two previously mentioned entities. While "former" points back to the first mentioned, "latter" directs the reader to the second, ensuring clarity and precision.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023
Understanding the proper use of "former" and "latter" is essential in academic and professional communication, as it aids in presenting information in a clear, concise, and organized manner. "Former" sets the stage by referencing an earlier point, and "latter" provides a comparative or contrasting reference to a subsequent point.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Sequence of Mention

Refers to the second item
Refers to the first item
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Chronological Order

Associated with the recent
Linked to the earlier
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Position in Speech

Follows the former
Precedes the latter
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Usage Context

Often in contrast or comparison
In reference to earlier subject
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Narrative Role

Ends the comparison
Begins the comparison
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Latter and Former Definitions

Latter

Latter signifies the second mentioned in a pair.
In the duo of Batman and Robin, the latter is the sidekick.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Former

Former is used for the earlier of two items.
Of the two cars, I drove the former model last year.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Latter

Latter is employed to reference the end part of something.
The book was boring in the beginning, but the latter part was interesting.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Former

Former signifies the preceding one in a sequence.
In the sequence of events, the former happened before the latter.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Latter

Latter refers to the second of two things mentioned.
Between coffee and tea, I prefer the latter.
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Nov 13, 2023
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Former

One that forms; a maker or creator
A former of ideas.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Latter

Being the second of two persons or things mentioned
Regarding captain and major, the latter rank is higher.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

A member of a school form
A fifth former.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Latter

Near or nearer to the end
The latter part of the book.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

The first of two persons or things mentioned
"The army was pulling itself together, the government was coming apart. The success of the former was continually imperiled by the failure of the latter" (Garry Wills).
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Latter

Further advanced in time or sequence; later
A style that has been revived in latter times.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

Relating to or taking place in the past
In former times.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Latter

The second of two persons or things mentioned.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

Having been so in the past
A former ambassador.
His former boss.
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Oct 19, 2023

Latter

Relating to or being the second of two items.
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Oct 19, 2023

Former

Being the first of two mentioned.
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Oct 19, 2023

Latter

Near (or nearer) to the end.
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Oct 19, 2023

Former

Previous.
A former president;
The former East Germany
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Latter

In the past, but close (or closer) to the present time.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

First of aforementioned two items. Used with the, often without a noun.
The former is a good idea but the latter is not.
We have two cars, a red one and a blue one. We won the former on a game show.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Latter

Later; more recent; coming or happening after something else; - opposed to former; as, the former and latter rain.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

Someone who forms something; a maker; a creator or founder.
Dave was the former of the company.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Latter

Of two things, the one mentioned second.
The difference between reason and revelation, and in what sense the latter is superior.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

An object used to form something, such as a template, gauge, or cutting die.
The brick arch was built using a wooden former.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Latter

Recent; modern.
Hath not navigation discovered in these latter ages, whole nations at the bay of Soldania?
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

Someone in, or of, a certain form (class).
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Latter

Last; latest; final.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

One who forms; a maker; a creator.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Latter

The second of two or the second mentioned of two;
Tom and Dick were both heroes but only the latter is remembered today
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

A shape around which an article is to be shaped, molded, woven wrapped, pasted, or otherwise constructed.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Latter

Referring to the second of two things or persons mentioned (or the last one or ones of several);
In the latter case
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

Preceding in order of time; antecedent; previous; prior; earlier; hence, ancient; long past.
For inquire, I pray thee, of the former age.
The latter and former rain.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Latter

Latter is used to denote the more recent of two.
In the 20th century, the latter half was more technologically advanced.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Former

Near the beginning; preceeding; as, the former part of a discourse or argument.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Latter

Latter points to the later option or element.
I had to choose between retiring early or later, and I chose the latter.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Former

Earlier, as between two things mentioned together; first mentioned.
A bad author deserves better usage than a bad critic; a man may be the former merely through the misfortune of an ill judgment; but he can not be latter without both that and an ill temper.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

The first of two or the first mentioned of two;
Tom and Dick were both heroes but only the former is remembered today
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

Referring to the first of two things or persons mentioned (or the earlier one or ones of several);
The novel was made into a film in 1943 and again in 1967; I prefer the former version to the latter one
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

Belonging to some prior time;
Erstwhile friend
Our former glory
The once capital of the state
Her quondam lover
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

(used especially of persons) of the immediate past;
The former president
Our late President is still very active
The previous occupant of the White House
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

Of the distant past;
The early inhabitants of Europe
Former generations
In other times
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Former

Former refers to the first of two things mentioned.
Between cats and dogs, I like the former better.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Former

Former denotes something that was true in the past.
The building is now a museum, but it was a palace in its former life.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Former

Former indicates an earlier state or condition.
She returned to her former employer after a year.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Can "latter" and "former" be used for more than two items?

No, they are specifically used to distinguish between two items or subjects.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Can "former" refer to something very old?

"Former" refers to the first of two items, not necessarily something very old.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Can "latter" refer to the end of a period?

Yes, as in "the latter part of the century."
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Is "latter" always about time?

Not necessarily about time, but about position in a sequence or list.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Are these words formal?

Yes, they are often used in formal writing or speech.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Can "latter" be used at the beginning of a sentence?

Yes, if it clearly refers to one of two previously mentioned items.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Is "former" used for living things?

Yes, it can be used for people, animals, or any two compared entities.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Is context important for understanding "former" and "latter"?

Absolutely, context determines their referents.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Can "former" indicate a previous role or position?

Yes, like "former president."
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Is "latter" always about comparison?

Often, but it can also indicate a choice or preference.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Is "latter" used in academic writing?

Yes, especially for contrasting two points or ideas.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Can "former" and "latter" be used in legal texts?

Yes, they are frequently used for clarity in legal documents.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Are these terms common in everyday speech?

They are more common in written English than spoken.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Can "latter" be used to summarize?

Yes, to refer to the second of two summarized points.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Can "former" be used for locations?

Yes, like "the former site of the building."
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Are there synonyms for "former" and "latter"?

Yes, like "first" for "former" and "second" for "latter."
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Can "former" suggest a return to a previous state?

Yes, in phrases like "returning to its former glory."
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Can "former" be used in a negative context?

It can, depending on what is being referred to.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Does "former" imply obsolescence?

Not necessarily; it simply refers to the first of two.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Is "latter" used in historical contexts?

Often, to refer to the later part of a historical period.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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