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How-to say “the former” and “the latter” with 前者 and 後者 respectively

How-to say “the former” and “the latter” with 前者 and 後者 respectively

The Japanese language has two words, 前者 (zensha) and 後者 (kousha), that correspond to the English phrases “the former” and “the latter” respectively.

The usage of these two words to refer to two entities that were aforementioned are also nearly identical to the English usage of “the former” and “the latter,” in which 前者 (zensha) refers to the first of the two aforementioned entities and 後者 (kousha) refers to the second of the two aforementioned entities.

With a quick glance, it is observable how the kanji for these two words, in which the first character 前 in 前者 (zensha) means “in front, before” and the first character 後 in 後者 (kousha) means “behind, back, later,” reflects this dynamic.

The second character in both words, 者, means “person, thing” and effectively turns both of these words into NOUN words, which is rather important when we make note of one big difference between the English usage of “the former” and “the latter” and the Japanese usage of 前者 and 後者 being that 前者 and 後者 cannot be used as adjectives to other words like “former’ and “latter’ can be in English (i.e. “the latter half of the event,” “the latter half of my life,” etc.).


Tennis to badminton wa ninki de aru sports desuga zensha no hou ga yori ninki ga arimasu.
“Tennis and badminton are popular sports but the former is more popular.”

日本のマンガでは「 ワンピース」と「ナルト」がとても人気がある。前者は海賊のテーマで後者は忍者のテーマだ。
Nihon no manga de wa “One Piece” to “Naruto” ga totemo ninki ga aru. Zensha wa kaizoku no theme de kousha wa ninja no theme da.
“Among Japanese manga, One Piece and Naruto are very popular series. The former is about pirates and the latter is about ninja.”