Words nearby former
Other definitions for former (2 of 2)
FORMER VS. LATTER
What’s the difference between former and latter?
Using the terms former and latter is a somewhat formal way to differentiate between items mentioned in a set or list without actually naming them. Former is used to indicate the first item mentioned, while latter is used to indicate the second item.
Both words can be used as an adjective or a noun. In either case, they are both usually preceded by the.
Here’s an example of an adjective use: When offered a choice between shorter hours and higher pay, most survey respondents chose the former option.
In this example, the former option refers to shorter hours, because that’s the item that was mentioned first.
Here’s an example of a noun use: I enjoy both vanilla and chocolate ice cream, but I prefer the latter.
In this example, the latter refers to chocolate ice cream, because that’s the one that was mentioned second.
Remember, using former and latter can sound a bit formal (and might even be confusing to people who aren’t familiar with the terms). A less formal (and potentially clearer) way to rephrase the former of the two examples would be to say When offered a choice between shorter hours and higher pay, most survey respondents chose shorter hours.
To remember the difference, remember that latter sounds like (and is related to) the word later—so the latter item is the one that was mentioned later.
Former and latter are sometimes both used in the same sequence.
Here’s an example of former and latter used correctly in the same sentence.
Example: The report presented two alternative plans: the former would be easier to implement; the latter would be less expensive.
Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between former and latter.
Quiz yourself on former vs. latter!
Should former or latter be used in the following sentence?
The study found that most participants chose the _____ option simply because it was the last thing they heard.
How to use former in a sentence
Former Red Sox star Curt Schilling says his politics are keeping him out of Cooperstown.Conservative Curt Says His Politics, Not His Pitching, Kept Him Out of the Hall of Fame|Ben Jacobs|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Like many Americans—but few Republican presidential candidates—the former Florida governor has evolved on the issue.
And now, similarly, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee: "Bend over and take it like a prisoner!"Huckabee 2016: Bend Over and Take It Like a Prisoner!|Olivia Nuzzi|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Current and former intelligence officials have said North Korea has long been a priority target for American spies.
Lalo said he reported the kidnapping to his ICE handlers, which was confirmed by a former federal agent familiar with the case.
Without the former quality, knowledge of the past is uninstructive; without the latter, it is deceptive.Pearls of Thought|Maturin M. Ballou
The enemy were pursued and annoyed by a few hundred of the citizens under Wooster and Arnold; the former was killed.The Every Day Book of History and Chronology|Joel Munsell
The latter trod on the toes of the former, whereupon the former threatened to "kick out of the cabin" the latter.
My husband detests them; on the contrary, I like those carriages, for they tell me of happy—I mean to say, of former times.
There seemed the flavour of some strange authority in her that baffled all approach to the former intimacy.The Wave|Algernon Blackwood