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I've just written the following sentence for my academic essay:

Some educators believe that it is more advantageous for students to learn theories rather than facts, since theories help explain both past and future events.

Because I don't want to sound repetitive, I've decided to change the word theories for something that refers back to it, as shown bellow:

Some educators believe that it is more advantageous for students to learn theories rather than facts, since the first ones help explain both past and future events.

Is the second sentence correct? Is there a more formal way to convey the same idea?

I did search for explanation on the internet, but could not find any.

Thanks in advance.

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    Some educators believe that it is more advantageous for students to learn theories rather than facts, since it helps explain both past and future events. Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 1:01
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    @ArchieAzares, Don't you think it may sound confusing if it use "it"? Because, as you can see, I have the words "theories" and "facts", so the reader wouldn't be able to understand which one I am referring to.
    – Caroline
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 1:07
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    not really. unless you cannot identify the subject on a certain sentence Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 1:14
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    Former, prior, previous…
    – 2540625
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 1:20
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    @ArchieAzares There's only one sentence under discussion and its subject is "some educators"; I don't see how that would help decipher "it". In fact, there doesn't seem to be any singular noun here to serve as the antecedent for the singular pronoun "it". Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 1:24

1 Answer 1

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I think you want "the former".

From dictionary.com:

former1 —adjective

[...] being the first mentioned of two (distinguished from latter ): The former suggestion was preferred to the latter.

Another example:

Some educators believe that it is more advantageous for students to learn theories rather than facts, since the former help explain both past and future events.

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  • What if I wanted to refer back to "facts" instead of "theories"? What would you use?
    – Caroline
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 1:10
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    That would be "the latter". I updated my answer to clarify!
    – user171152
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 1:13
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    latter: being the second mentioned of two
    – JJJ
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 1:13

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