This is my sentence.....

These include, the manager, an occupational therapist(O.T), an activity coordinator, two mental health practitioners, two mental health nurses and eight health care assistants.

And I want to say...

The latter two, work twelve hour shifts.

Is this possible or does latter just refer to the last in the list?

  • 2
    Please look up use cases. Use later / latter with former (single units/ groups/ sets) and last with first (units in a long list). "The last two work twelve hours shifts."
    – Kris
    Jan 19, 2016 at 13:46
  • 2
    To add up to Kris's comment, I would probably use "the last two categories", to make it clear that you are talking about health nurses and health care assistants and not only the last two assistants, when I interpreted correctly what you meant to say. But that may only be the non-native English speaker speaking and "the last two" may be clear enough.
    – Eldroß
    Jan 19, 2016 at 14:13

1 Answer 1


Your example is a bit complicated. I would definitely agree with "latter two" if the latter two in question are singular (though "last two" is better - I normally only use "latter" to mean the single last item, in this case, the eight health care assistants); for your case, I'm half tempted to say "latter ten" (but, again, it should really be "last ten").

More seriously, "the two last groups" (or "the last two groups") would probably work better. I'd rather use "the two latter groups" over "the latter two groups", but IMHO both are worse than the versions with "last".

Incidentally, you do not need a comma after "latter two" (or any of the clauses I proposed), and not after "they include" either (though a colon would work).

  • As oxforddictionaries point out in @Kris's link, It is not considered good writing style to use latter to refer to more than two things. By which they mean former and latter should only be used in the context of a "list" containing exactly and only two elements (note that two mental health nurses and eight health care assistants is a list of two elements, each of which happens to be a plural NP). Jan 19, 2016 at 13:58
  • @FumbleFingers That's basically what i said: I would definitely use that, but I'd rather use "last", and the OP's specific example is wrong even to me. That said, my background is all wrong to perceive "good writing style" well: English is my second language - it's only as good as it is because I spent years reading online posts at 2000 words per minute; but that means I can't perceive that something is wrong (unless there's an obvious spelling or grammatical error) if it happened often enough. Richness of the stimulus, as Language Log would say. (I've deleted the old comment, incidentally.) Jan 19, 2016 at 14:15
  • The issue is you used "I would definitely agree with latter two..."
    – user140086
    Jan 19, 2016 at 14:20
  • @Rathony Will edit to clarify. Sorry. Jan 19, 2016 at 14:21
  • 1
    You don't need to say sorry. We welcome you to EL&U. :-)
    – user140086
    Jan 19, 2016 at 14:21

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