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What is the meaning of "if the latter, thick or thin" in the following sentence?

Identify whether the course is full-time, part-time or sandwich, and if the latter, thick or thin.

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    It means "if the course is sandwich, identify whether it is thick or thin." – Sven Yargs Aug 31 '18 at 4:39
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    "Thin sandwich course. Normally part of a three-year degree, a thin sandwich course is one where you study and undertake work experience throughout, for example with two six-month placements slotted around your study - one in year two, one in year three." See Wikijob for thick and thin sandwich courses wikijob.co.uk/content/internships/advice/sandwich-courses (may require sign-in). – Kris Aug 31 '18 at 7:27
  • "Essentially, the difference is that ‘thin’ courses tend to involve shorter work placements (i.e. between two and six months), while ‘thick’ courses incorporate a placement that lasts the whole year." allaboutcareers.com/careers-advice/work-placements/… – Kris Aug 31 '18 at 7:30
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"latter, thick or thin" doesn't mean anything on its own.

"latter" refers to something near the end. The phrase "if the latter" means "if it's the last thing in the list of things I just mentioned". In this case it means "if the course is a sandwich course".

"thick or thin" therefore refers to the sandwich course. You could break up the sentence into two like this: "Identify whether the course is full-time, part-time or sandwich. If the course is a sandwich course identify if it is thick or thin."

A note on use: technically "latter" should only be used to describe the second of two things (not three or more like here). "Latter" is contrasted by "former" which means the first of two things. However I tend to see "latter" used like it is here from time to time so I wouldn't make a big deal of it.

  • Btw it doesn't have to be an adjective, even nouns can be "adjunct" and behave like adjectives. So there's no joke. – Kris Aug 31 '18 at 7:31
  • Huh, thanks for that. I was aware of noun adjuncts but the idea of a "sandwich course" as opposed to a full- or part-time course was so inherently absurd, especially "thick or thin" that I didn't even think to look it up. I'm aware of the concept, or at least something similar, but I don't think we call them that here. I'll edit my answer to take those comments out. – Michael Ferguson Aug 31 '18 at 12:34
  • I have already provided the links to the required answer in my comments at OP. – Kris Sep 3 '18 at 8:31
  • Yes? I saw them before making my comment, but I'm not sure how that's relevant here. – Michael Ferguson Sep 6 '18 at 4:02

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