Today I’m going to explain the difference between the words LATER and LATTER. They’re only different by one letter – later has one T and latter has two Ts – but they have different pronunciations and different meanings.
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The word “later” with one T refers to a time in the future. Right now I’m giving you a lesson, and I’ll go to the gym later, meaning in the evening, in the future from this moment.
You probably already know the word later, so I won’t give a ton of examples, but another common expression is that we can say “See you later!” when we are saying goodbye to somebody now, but we know we will see them again usually in the short-term future.
Learn more: No later than / No earlier than
What about the word latter? This is used when you mention two things, and then you want to refer back specifically to the second thing.
For example, I have fans of EspressoEnglish on both Facebook and YouTube, and I have more fans on the latter. The latter means the second one of the two things I just mentioned.
So in this example, I have fans on Facebook (that’s the first thing mentioned) and on YouTube (that’s the second thing mentioned) and I have more fans on YouTube. But instead of saying “YouTube” again in the sentence, I refer to it as “the latter,” meaning the second thing that I mentioned in the previous sentence or phrase.
Here’s another simple example:
I went to the store and bought bananas and pears. The former weren’t ripe yet, but the latter were ready to eat. So I mentioned two things: 1) bananas, and 2) pears. I can use “the former” to refer to the first thing mentioned – the bananas weren’t ripe yet. And then I use “the latter” to refer to the second thing mentioned – the pears were ready to eat.
OK? Let’s review quickly:
- Later refers to something happening in the future
- Latter refers to the second of two things mentioned in the previous sentence or phrase
How to pronounce later and latter
When you’re speaking, there’s a pronunciation difference:
- Later has the long A sound as in name or hate.
- Latter has the short A sound as in apple and cat.
That’s all for now!
If you want more, you can find lots of great explanations inside my 600+ Confusing Words E-Book.