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Equivalent of “former” and “latter” for more than 2 items

Can I use "the latter" to refer to the last name from a list of names that is more than 2? Or should there be only 2 in the list? I.e.:

Paul, Nick, John. The latter is John.

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marked as duplicate by Ed Guiness, Robusto, b.roth, RegDwigнt Apr 4 '11 at 15:43

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Yes, you can! According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the 2nd meaning of 'latter': 2 : of, relating to, or being the second of two groups or things or the last of several groups or things. This also puzzled me, a non-native speaker in the beginning. –  Hongbo Zhu Mar 4 at 12:10
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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Latter is related to the comparative 'later'. Since it is comparative and not superlative, it cannot be used for lists longer than 2.

When wishing to refer to the last of a longer list, simply use 'last'.

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I would say no. Latter generally refers to the second of two. I would use last in this case.

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