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    • Join Date: May 2008
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    #1

    Verb agreement on the pronoun latter or former

    I have consulted some people regarding the subject, but I didn't get one answer. Some say the pronouns latter and former are always considered singular, whether or not they previously refer to plural subjects. Others, on the other hand, said that they are either singular or plural, depending on the number of the subject they substitute for. Kindly enlighten me on this. Thanks, thanks.


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    #2

    Re: Verb agreement on the pronoun latter or former

    Latter and former are adjectives or nouns, not pronouns.

    As nouns, they are uncountable.

    Offered money or a car, I chose the latter. Perhaps I would have been better to have chosen the former.

  1. Soup's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Verb agreement on the pronoun latter or former

    Quote Originally Posted by jimmyrico View Post
    Others, on the other hand, said that they are either singular or plural, depending on the number of the subject they substitute for. Kindly enlighten me on this. Thanks, thanks.
    I'm one of the "others".

    This from GSC Guide to Authors - Pronouns

    'Former' and 'latter'
    The terms the former and the latter are used instead of a pair of names, nouns, or groups, to avoid repetition. These terms should be used sparingly. They often confuse and irritate the reader, who must look back to be sure of the reference. Short sentences may be clearer if the noun is repeated. If three or more persons or objects are referred to, the words first or last should be used. Latter is frequently and unnecessarily used for another pronoun, as in the following sentence:
    During the first week of fieldwork, the party chief sent the students home because of the latter's injuries (their injuries).
    Note that had there been only one student, the use of latter's instead of his/her would be necessary to avoid the implication that the party chief was injured.
    This from Former and latter
    ‘Former’ and ‘latter’ exhibit some of the nature of demonstratives themselves. Used as nouns in this way they are not modified by demonstratives. However, as adjectives they may be preceded by a demonstrative - "These former things". When these words are used as demonstrative nouns they are always singular in form: "The riots in several cities and the years of bad economic management were the major causes for the government’s downfall. The latter were avoidable: the former were not." Note, that even when these words are singular in form, they can take a plural verb.


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    #4

    Smile Re: Verb agreement on the pronoun latter or former

    You've been of help. Thanks.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Verb agreement on the pronoun latter or former

    My solution is simple: just avoid those words. They add fog and reduce comprehensibility. (OK, there is a case for their use between consenting adults. )

    b

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