previous vs former

Discussion in 'English Only' started by arageme, Oct 17, 2005.

  1. arageme New Member

    i´d like to know the difference between these two words. could anyone help?
  2. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    Hello, Arageme, and welcome to the forums. :)

    Bill Clinton is a former President of the United States. One of his previous positions was that of governor of Arkansas.

    Without context, it's hard to pin down the difference. Is there a specific sentence you had in mind but didn't know which word to use in?

    Also, please don't post the same question in three different threads. It won't be answered any faster. :)
  3. arageme New Member

    Sorry about sending same question several times. I didn´t know!:confused:

    I just wanted to explain to my students the basic difference in meaning so that they could know which of the two words to use in a multiple choice fill-in-the-gaps exercise.
    Thanks very much anyway:)
  4. coup de feu Member

    America, english
    Former means "was", or "of the past", and does not imply that it will be again. Yet it does not exclude the qualites nor possibility.
    Previous simply means "before", as in a series.
  5. Moogey Senior Member

    New Jersey, USA
    USA English
    He was the former president. :tick:
    He was previously the president. :tick:

    The former day, ... :cross:
    The previous day, ... :tick:

    Mainly, the difference is that former is a noun and previous is an adjective so the main difference is where it is placed in a sentence.

    Also, both can be used as adverbs: formerly and previously.

    Hope this helps :)
  6. Gustavoang Senior Member

    Venezuela / Castilian

    I have a doubt: Is it right to say "Ex-President"?

  7. Moogey Senior Member

    New Jersey, USA
    USA English
    Hi Gustavoang!

    Yes, you can say ex-president.

    People use ex- often. For example, very few times do people say "my former boyfriend/girlfriend" or "my previous girlfriend/boyfriend". 99.9% of the time they say "my ex-girlfriend/ex-boyfriend"

    You can't say the ex-day, however.

    You use ex when you say something was something. I.e. Bill Clinton was the president. or She/he was my girlfriend/boyfriend

    Hope it helps!

    P.S.- one would say i have a question rather than i have a doubt in english :)
  8. Gustavoang Senior Member

    Venezuela / Castilian
    Hi, Moogey!

    Alright, I understood! Thank you!

    Thanks! I'll take it into account.

  9. Moogey Senior Member

    New Jersey, USA
    USA English

    Are you ok with me correcting you? Many people find this very helpful when learning a language :)

    You say this if you understand now. You use "understood" if you understood it before I said it, as it's past. Also, while "Alright, I understand!" is grammatically correct, most people would not use "alright" there and say "ah," "oh," or "ok." :)

    Just let me know if you don't want me to correct you :D

  10. Gustavoang Senior Member

    Venezuela / Castilian
    Sure, you're doing me a big favor. :thumbsup:

    Ok, I understand :tick:

    In Spanish, when someone explains you something and after the explanation you want to say that you get it now, you can say it both in present and past. For instance, "De acuerdo, ahora entiendo", "Entiendo", "Está bien, entendí", and as I said, "De acuerdo, entendí".

    Thanks, Moogey!

  11. river Senior Member

    U.S. English

    Ex- designates the person who immediately preceded the current titleholder in that position; former designates an earlier titleholder.
    • Ex-president Bill Clinton lives in New York. (He held office immediately before the current president.)
    • Former president Jimmy Carter lives in Georgia. (He held office sometime before the current president and that person's immediate predecessor.) The Gregg Reference Manual

Share This Page