Origin of latter
Words nearby latter
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 latter in a sentence
That latter fear crossed my mind more than once during the evening.
In both of these latter cases, their eyes show more focus than fun, like tonight is a job.
The former is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, the latter by the government of Israel.
The former believed in the role of the state as a provider, while the latter favored an iron fist approach to governance.
The trouble was, he alienated Pope Pius VI and Pius VII—the latter he actually arrested.
Mrs. Woodbury paints in oils and water-colors; the latter are genre scenes, and among them are several Dutch subjects.Women in the fine arts, from the Seventh Century B.C. to the Twentieth Century A.D.|Clara Erskine Clement
Without the former quality, knowledge of the past is uninstructive; without the latter, it is deceptive.Pearls of Thought|Maturin M. Ballou
The latter trod on the toes of the former, whereupon the former threatened to "kick out of the cabin" the latter.
Give not up thy heart to sadness, but drive it from thee: and remember the latter end.The Bible, Douay-Rheims Version|Various
He passed the latter part of his life in poverty, and towards the close of it, was confined in a madhouse.The Every Day Book of History and Chronology|Joel Munsell
British Dictionary definitions for latter
- denoting the second or second mentioned of two: distinguished from former
- (as noun; functioning as sing or plural)the latter is not important