In cases where a sentence involves a logical evaluation, e.g., ...

... Is it improper to do [this], rather than to do [that]?

...is there any convention on the usage of "former" vs "latter"? For example, to reference [that]...

In the case of the ______ ...

...would one use "former" or "latter" here? At first glance, I thought "latter" since it refers to the tail-end of the referenced sentence, but then on second thought, I thought maybe I should use "former" instead because the logical evaluation resolves as true in the former portion of the referenced sentence, i.e., "it is improper, therefore...". Or should I just avoid the usage altogether in this specific context?

  • 3
    Former and latter have absolutely nothing to do with truth values: they refer solely to the position of the concept in the sentence/passage/paragraph, etc.
    – Greybeard
    May 29, 2020 at 7:49

1 Answer 1


Well, I am not a professional in grammar or the English language, but I would say in this case when referring to "that" one would use the word "Latter". According to the dictionary I have and random dictionaries on the internet, the idea of "former" and "latter" simply refers to the position of each point in the previous statements, and is not subjective to the truthfulness or the relevancy of each statement. Therefore, in this case of referencing "that", give is was mentioned in the latter portion of the sentence, one would use "latter" instead of former. Hopefully this is helpful in resolving your question, and please correct me if I am mistaken

  • 1
    I would say in this case when referring to "that" one would use the word "Latter". Thisis incorrect: That and this are a demonstrative adjectives and pronouns. They relate only to a relative position in space or time, not to the order in the sentence - "That [points at a cat] and this [points at a dog] must be removed from the room. Give the former [the dog] to Mr Jones and give the latter [the cat] to Miss Smith."
    – Greybeard
    May 29, 2020 at 13:43

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