As a noun to refer to the first item in a list of two or more things, people, or places
As an adjective to refer to a past state (often to replace the prefix “ex-”)
As an adjective meaning “previous”
Examples: Former in a sentence If I had to pick between a beach holiday or a retreat, I would choose the former.
My former girlfriend now plays in a famous theater production.
Before you move out, the property has to be restored to its former state.
How to use latter
Latter can be used in the following ways:
As a noun to refer to the last item in a list of two or more things, people, or places
As an adjective meaning “subsequent”
As an adjective to refer to a later time
Examples: Latter in a sentence I was offered a sandwich or a poke bowl, but I chose the latter.
In the latter years, he really excelled in his career.
Susie wants to go on a sabbatical in the latter half of the year.
The expression latter-day is often used before a noun to mean “modern” or “present-day.” It is always spelled with a hyphen.
Examples: Latter-day in a sentence (determiner) The latter-day emphasis on the environment is crucial for the future of our planet.
I am glad that the latter-day focus on mental health is breaking down stigmas. Latter-day architecture incorporates sustainable design principles.
The former and the latter
The former and the latter are noun phrases that refer back to the first and last item in a list. In this context, “former” and “latter” are always accompanied by the definite article “the.”
Examples: The former and the latter in a sentence We got offered pasta or rice. I chose the former, and Eric chose the latter.
Richard has both a son and daughter, but only the former attended his party.
We can order salads or pancakes, but the latter might be a bit more festive.
Some style guides advise using former and latter only in lists containing two items. While this is indeed the most common usage, you can also use these words for lists with more items. Alternatively, you can use “first” and “last.”
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