Later vs latter

Later is an adverb, usually used in relation to time. It means for something to happen in the future. It isn’t define specifically, but just generally in the future.

Note here this can also be used as an exclamation when departing a person or group of people. Later is short for the phrase see you later. Outside the United States, the plural laters is more common.

 

Latter is an adjective to describe one of two things in a comparison. The latter happens or exists after something else; or toward the end of something, as opposed to the beginning.

These words are similar but not synonyms or interchangeable. It is helpful to remember that later deals in time and latter deals in space or sequence.

Side note: ladder is a common misspelling of latter. A ladder is something that one climbs to be able to reach tall heights. The confusion is most prevalent if someone has never seen latter spelled and simply spells based on enunciation, which can change based on accents and culture.

Examples

  1. Jeremy got to later than Mary did.
  2. Of the two options offered, I prefer the latter.
  3. Let’s have coffee later in the week.
  4. We have a dog and a cat. Of the two, the latter makes less noise.
  5. Carrie plans to shop for a dress later this afternoon.
  6. She had the option of silk or lace trim. She chose the latter.
  7. During daylight savings time, it gets dark later at night.
  8. Of the first two Hobbit movies, I prefer the latter.

How to Remember the Difference

Plug in rough synonyms to see which is correct. If the sentence still makes sense with the word “after” replacing the word in question in the sentence, the correct word is “later.” If the sentence still makes sense with the word “second” as a replacement, the correct word is “latter.”

 

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