Have you ever written an email and stopped typing mid sentence? Did you delete what you wrote and reword it because you weren’t sure if you used proper grammar? Stop being afraid. Miss Ink’s Grammar Refreshers are here to help! This week we’re reviewing “former” vs. “latter.” This one is actually really simple.
Former: An item that appears first in a list of two things or persons. You can easily remember the meaning of “former” by associating it with the word first.
Example: Tiffany was given a choice between a blue dress and a red dress. She chose the former.
Bonus Tips: This is similar to the word “formerly,” which means something that occurred before something else. However, don’t confuse it with the word with “formal,” which means a custom that is clearly defined, something that is strictly regulated or, as it pertains to attire, clothing that can be defined as fancy (e.g., black tie).
Latter: This word refers to the last item in a list of two items or people.
Example: The cafeteria was serving ham and turkey. I prefer the latter.
Bonus Tip: Don’t confuse “latter” with the word “later,” which is something that will happen in the future. Also be careful to not misspell it as “ladder” and wind up talking about an object you step on to reach high points.
Let’s Try it Out:
A. The teacher asked her students, “which is red, a banana or a raspberry?” Most of the students answered correctly when they said the latter.
B. The teacher asked her students, “which is red, a banana or a raspberry?” Most of the students answered correctly when they said the former.
Answer: The correct answer is “A.” A raspberry is red and it appears last in the list.
A. Tiffany and Brandon wanted Dairy Queen for dessert while Martha and Billy opted for Cheesecake Factory. We chose the former since we were in the mood for ice cream.
B. Tiffany and Brandon wanted Dairy Queen for dessert while Martha and Billy wanted Cheesecake Factory. We chose the latter since we were in the mood for ice cream.
Answer: The correct answer is “A” since we wanted ice cream and Dairy Queen serves ice cream.