Should I use 'former' or 'latter'?

To understand when to use ‘former’ and ‘latter’, let’s first look at the definition of each word. The meaning of ‘former’ is the first mentioned, or the first in a list, of two people, places, or things.
  • Monica was given a choice between paying a large fine or performing five months of community service. She chose the former.
  • He had either received the money or stolen it. If the former, she gave it to him out of pity.
The meaning of ‘latter’ is the last mentioned, or the last in a list, of two people, places, or things.
  • The boss offered me a job in New York or a job in Botswana. I prefer the latter.
  • He aimed his bow between me and Pedro, with a glance at the latter.
If you still have deciding difficulty which to use, just remember:

former = first

latter = last

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Example sentences using ‘latter’

  • There are two ways to live, by working hard or by taking handouts from the government. They seem, however, to have some predilection for the latter.
  • There were two boys, a sneaky lying little cheater, and an honest and clean-cut student. I was at once convinced from what you had told me that the latterwas your son.
  • She guided the sailboat safely into port after saving the young boy from drowning. For the latter she received a standing ovation from the crew.
  • As a result of my work I could have been offered a promotion or a one-way ticket home. Of the two, I would have much preferred the latter.
  • I was offered a choice between the contents of the small box or the backpack. The latter contained the book "Yolanda and the Thief".
  • You can travel either to the village controlled by the militants or the village controlled by the right-wing forces. The latter is accessible by private road from Sitka.
  • There were two distinct groups of migrating animals during the summer months, the predators and the prey. The latter group had disappeared by the end of September.
Another meaning of ‘former’ is having previously filled a particular role or been a particular thing. Let’s look at some sentences using this definition of ‘former’. The MLA Style Guide, The APA Style Guide

Example sentences using ‘former’

  • The carriage turned about, and drove on at its former speed.
  • There is something electrifying in the atmosphere of the former place.
  • Oh, my former friends, my former friends!
  • His sister, Lesley, is a former Ford model.
  • It was the seat of the former municipality of Eleftherios Venizelos.
  • David Hale is a former Arkansas municipal judge and former Arkansas banker.
  • The former routing through the city was redesigned M-10.
  • At the rear of the passenger station is the former freighthouse.
  • He is a former member of the Icelandic band Trabant.
  • Senator Garn is a former insurance executive.
  • He is the former manager of the Milwaukee Brewers.
  • Often the new work would be distinct than the former.
  • Planning and construction of the former chapel.
  • The cemetery is the site of the former city dump.
  • It was one of the former municipalities added to Barcelona.
  • He is a former member of the Executive Committee of FIFA.
  • He is the cousin of former teammate Bryan Lerg.
  • Joaquín Villalobos is a Salvadoran former politician and former guerrilla leader.
  • Besoijen is a former village in the Netherlands.
  • Bohrman is the former President of Current TV.
  • By 1865, most of the former rancho lands had been subdivided.
  • The former route went through Chetwynd Aston.
  • Today there is a restaurant in the former golf house.
  • He is former athlete Fiona May's cousin.
  • The examples below only show the relationship of former assistant coaches to their head coach.

Examples of the proper use of ‘latter’

  • The latter he was intimate with, and affectionately embraced.
  • The usual inquiries as to his success was made by the latter.
  • The latter was much more agreeable than his companion expected.
  • The latter took in the whole scene at a glance.
  • The latter belonged to a parvipelvian subgroup, the Thunnosauria.
  • It is not a coincidence that the latter has been recently on air more often.
  • The latter form of baptism being performed by most Christians.
  • The latter band only writes songs about hockey.
  • The latter seems to be totally under Esther's spell.
  • He had shoulder surgery in the latter half of the year.
  • The latter one still operates in the summer.
  • It was published in hardcover under the latter title in 1948.
  • He latter adopted Portuguese citizenship.
  • The latter was renamed to München-Gladbach-Land in 1907.

Examples of the proper use of ‘former’

  • It is the former location which gave the sandwich its name.
  • The former is the Graduate School of CUMT.
  • The former is characterized by having a fixed hub.
  • The former one has a price on his head by the yugoloths.
  • The former group encompasses all the best options.
  • In retrospect, this former attitude prevailed.
  • As time passed, the former turned out to be true.
  • The former was purchased by Pepsi.
  • Since Spring 2011 she is the coordinator of the former.
  • He was selected as the outstanding alumnus of both of the former schools.
  • Only the former music video was broadcast internationally.
  • The former indignantly demanded its return.
  • Michał's name is among the former.

Use of ‘former’ and ‘latter’ in American English

This Ngram indicates the use of ‘former’ and ‘latter’ in American books, journals, and magazines.

Use of ‘former’ and ‘latter’ in British English

This Ngram indicates the use of ‘former’ and ‘latter’ in British books, journals, and magazines.

Trends in the use of ‘former’

Trends in the use of ‘former’

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