Latter vs Former: Difference and Comparison

Adjectives are an integrated part of not just English but any language around the world. All languages comprise rules and regulations important for proper and convenient communication. If one needs to learn a language nicely, one will need to understand all its aspects, whether big or small.

Key Takeaways

  1. “Latter” indicates the second of the two mentioned items, whereas “former” refers to the first.
  2. Use “latter” and “former” to clarify references and avoid repetition in writing or speech.
  3. Misusing “latter” and “former” can cause confusion and misinterpretation of information.

Latter vs Former

“Former” refers to the first of two mentioned things or people. “Latter” refers to the second. For example, if we were talking about two countries, say China and Russia, and I said, “China has a population of over a billion people, while Russia has a population of around 144 million.

Latter vs Former

Latter is a demonstrative adjective. It is used to indicate the second of two things conveniently. The two things have already been named in the past; therefore, to avoid using their name repeatedly, the adjective ‘latter’ is used in its place. The repetitive use of a word can make a sentence sound monotonous.

Former is also a demonstrative adjective. It is used in the English language in order to indicate the first of two things. Since when we use a particular word repeatedly, it starts to feel a bit boring and uneasy, the demonstrative adjective – Former, beautifully helps make the text or speech much more alluring.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonLatterFormer
DefinitionLatter is used to indicating the second of two elements.Former is used to indicate the first of two elements.
OriginLatter has its origins in Old English.Former has its origins in Pro-Indo-European.
SynonymSecond, after, end, last are some synonyms of Latter.First, before, erstwhile, are some synonyms of Former.
Derived termLattermost is one of the derived terms of Latter.Fifth former, fourth former are some of the derived terms of Former.
ExampleRed and White both are chosen, but the latter is good in my opinion.Riya and Shina both participated in the race, but the former won it.

What is Latter?

Latter is an adjective, more precisely, a demonstrative adjective. Adjectives are an essential part of English, but all languages are spoken around the world. They help in beautifying as well as simplifying the use of words. And in order to learn a language in a wholesome manner, one definitely needs to understand the grammar.

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Latter is used to referring to the second of the two elements which are being talked about. These two elements should not be unnamed. The names of the two things in context must be previously mentioned in the text, speech, etc. The word ‘Latter’ in place of the second element’s name is used to make the sentence easier to understand and more convenient to describe. 

The word ‘Latter’ finds its origins in Old English. It is one of the words that doesn’t originate from any other language but English. Some of its synonyms are – second, last, end, etc. Even some words are a derivative of the phrase Latter, like ‘lattermost.’ We use it in everyday sentences; for example, – Rohan and Ali wanted to participate in a chess championship, but only the latter got selected.

What is Former?

Former is a very commonly used adjective in the English language. If we take a deeper look at grammar, it is found that ‘Former’ is a demonstrative type of adjective, too, just like Latter. Adjectives are widely used in any language, be it English, German, Hebrew, or any other. The former is used to indicate the first of two things that are being discussed. However, it is necessary that the two things were named correctly before in the text.

To understand their importance, let us have a look at the following two sentences: ‘Aditi and Emily are the brightest students in class, but Aditi was chosen as the class monitor.’ Now, if we replace the second usage of Aditi with the adjective ‘Former,’ the sentence goes like this – ‘Aditi and Emily are the brightest students in class, but the former was chosen as the class monitor.’ The second sentence sounds much more well structured than the first one, which clears out why and how adjectives are needed and used.

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The word ‘Former’ originates from Pro-Indo-European. It hasn’t been resolved which language was majorly responsible for the word selection. Erstwhile, first, and before are some synonyms of ‘Former.’ 

Main Differences Between Latter and Former

  1. The Latter indicates the second appearance of two words, while the Former indicates the first appearance of two words.
  2. Latter has its origins in Old English, whereas the Former originates from a blend of Pro-Indo-European.
  3. Latter has synonyms – second, end, last, after, etc. Former has synonyms – first, before, etc. 
  4. Latter has a derivative term, ‘ lattermost ‘, which is commonly used even more than Latter itself. Former can have derivative words like third former, fifth former, etc., but people don’t use these commonly.
  5. Example of usage of the word Latter – Strawberry and Blueberry cakes were ordered, and I liked the latter more. For example, using the word Former – both T-shirts and shirts were available, but he preferred the former.
Difference Between Latter and Former

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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11 thoughts on “Latter vs Former: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This is a very informative, well researched article. The usage of examples helps clear out the correct use of latter and former.


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