How to use former vs. latter

The good news for those who learn English is that these words do usually come in a pair. If you use one, the cases in which you would not then use the other are rare to nonexistent.

Cecilia Gigliotti
Cecilia Gigliotti

The words former and latter usually accompany each other and are usually seen in that order. If you read the word former in any given text, chances are you will find latter not far behind.

The good news for those who learn English is that these words do usually come in a pair. If you use one, the cases in which you would not then use the other are rare to nonexistent.

But how do you go about using these words? And how can you apply former and latter in a sentence?

One follows another

Former and latter denote first and second in a list. You can remember the order of meaning by noting the spelling similarities between “latter” and “later.”

As we’ve said, it isn’t often that you have to choose between latter or former. They can be used in any number of contexts, from business to casual, and can refer to any type of person, place, or thing.
To determine which word refers to which entity, you would name or otherwise identify them before employing former and latter.

Example:

Of candidates X and Y, the former has more experience, but the latter is very charismatic.

In the above case, candidate X is indicated by “the former” and candidate Y by “the latter.”

More examples:

If you’re asking whether I’m a morning person or a night person, I would say I’m typically the former and occasionally the latter.
The farmers’ market was short on mangoes and had a surplus of bananas, which meant everyone bought up the former and hardly any of the latter.
I enjoyed visiting both Paris and Berlin, but I felt like a tourist in the former, whereas I felt quite at home in the latter.
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EnglishWhich is correct

Cecilia Gigliotti

I have extensive experience writing in a variety of genres, from literary novels to music reviews to academic articles. I appreciate the power of words.


Cecilia Gigliotti

I have extensive experience writing in a variety of genres, from literary novels to music reviews to academic articles. I appreciate the power of words.

Geoffrey Mutie

My name is Geoffrey! I am constantly looking for new ways to improve my writing skills and my interpersonal skills, which in my opinion help a person be professional.

Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.