Ask Difference

Formal vs. Former — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Published on October 3, 2023
Formal relates to official, structured, or ceremonial aspects, while former refers to something or someone that existed in the past or held a previous position.
Formal vs. Former — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Formal and Former

ADVERTISEMENT

Key Differences

Formal pertains to a specific set of rules, procedures, or conventions. It is often associated with official occasions, structured settings, or ceremonies. Former, on the other hand, refers to something that existed in the past or someone who held a previous position.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023
Formal attire, for example, is appropriate for events like weddings or business meetings. For instance, the former president of a company implies the individual who held that position before the current one.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Comparison Chart

Meaning

Pertains to official or structured aspects
Refers to something or someone from the past
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Usage

Often related to etiquette and ceremonies
Indicates a previous state or identity
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Attire

Formal attire is worn for special occasions
Former clothing refers to past styles
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023
ADVERTISEMENT

Language

Formal language adheres to established standards
Former language may refer to older dialects
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Position

Formal positions are official and recognized
Former positions are those held previously
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Formal

Formal refers to official or structured aspects.
The wedding had a formal dress code.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 27, 2023

Former

Former clothing styles were popular in earlier eras.
Vintage fashion often features former styles.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 27, 2023

Formal

Formality implies adherence to etiquette and conventions.
He used formal language in his letter.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 27, 2023

Former

The former language of a region may differ from today's dialect.
Old English is the former language of England.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 27, 2023

Formal

Formal attire is appropriate for special occasions.
She wore a formal gown to the awards ceremony.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 27, 2023

Former

The former president refers to the previous officeholder.
The former president gave a speech.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 27, 2023

Formal

In a formal setting, decorum and rules are emphasized.
The board meeting followed a formal agenda.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 27, 2023

Former

Former indicates something or someone from the past.
She visited her former school.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 27, 2023

Formal

Relating to or involving outward form or structure, often in contrast to content or meaning.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

Former employees are those who worked at a previous job.
The company recognized its former staff at the reunion.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 27, 2023

Formal

Being or relating to essential form or constitution
A formal principle.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

One that forms; a maker or creator
A former of ideas.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Following or being in accord with accepted or prescribed forms, conventions, or regulations
Had little formal education.
Went to a formal party.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

A member of a school form
A fifth former.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Characterized by strict or meticulous observation of forms; methodical
Very formal in their business transactions.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

The first of two persons or things mentioned
"The army was pulling itself together, the government was coming apart. The success of the former was continually imperiled by the failure of the latter" (Garry Wills).
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Stiffly ceremonious
A formal greeting.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

Relating to or taking place in the past
In former times.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Characterized by technical or polysyllabic vocabulary, complex sentence structure, and explicit transitions; not colloquial or informal
Formal discourse.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

Having been so in the past
A former ambassador.
His former boss.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Having the outward appearance but lacking in substance
A formal requirement that is usually ignored.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

Being the first of two mentioned.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Something, such as a gown or social affair, that is formal in nature.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

Previous.
A former president;
The former East Germany
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Being in accord with established forms.
She spoke formal English, without any dialect.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

First of aforementioned two items. Used with the, often without a noun.
The former is a good idea but the latter is not.
We have two cars, a red one and a blue one. We won the former on a game show.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Official.
I'd like to make a formal complaint.
Despite efforts by limnologists and freshwater biologists to create a formal definition of “pond”, there is still no universal distinction between a “pond” and a “lake.”
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

Someone who forms something; a maker; a creator or founder.
Dave was the former of the company.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Relating to the form or structure of something.
Formal linguistics ignores the vocabulary of languages and focuses solely on their grammar.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

An object used to form something, such as a template, gauge, or cutting die.
The brick arch was built using a wooden former.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Relating to formation.
The formal stage is a critical part of any child's development.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

Someone in, or of, a certain form (class).
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Ceremonial or traditional.
Formal wear must be worn at my wedding!
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

One who forms; a maker; a creator.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Proper, according to strict etiquette; not casual.
He's always very formal, and I wish he'd relax a bit.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

A shape around which an article is to be shaped, molded, woven wrapped, pasted, or otherwise constructed.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Organized; well-structured and planned.
When they became a formal club the rowers built a small boathouse.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

Preceding in order of time; antecedent; previous; prior; earlier; hence, ancient; long past.
For inquire, I pray thee, of the former age.
The latter and former rain.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

(mathematics) Relating to mere manipulation and construction of strings of symbols, without regard to their meaning.
Formal series are defined without any reference to convergence.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

Near the beginning; preceeding; as, the former part of a discourse or argument.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

(clothing) An evening gown.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

Earlier, as between two things mentioned together; first mentioned.
A bad author deserves better usage than a bad critic; a man may be the former merely through the misfortune of an ill judgment; but he can not be latter without both that and an ill temper.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

An event with a formal dress code.
Jenny took Sam to her Year 12 formal.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

The first of two or the first mentioned of two;
Tom and Dick were both heroes but only the former is remembered today
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

(programming) A formal parameter.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

Referring to the first of two things or persons mentioned (or the earlier one or ones of several);
The novel was made into a film in 1943 and again in 1967; I prefer the former version to the latter one
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

(Oxbridge slang) formal hall.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

Belonging to some prior time;
Erstwhile friend
Our former glory
The once capital of the state
Her quondam lover
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

(uncountable) Formalin.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

(used especially of persons) of the immediate past;
The former president
Our late President is still very active
The previous occupant of the White House
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

An acetal formed from formaldehyde.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Former

Of the distant past;
The early inhabitants of Europe
Former generations
In other times
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

See Methylal.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Belonging to the form, shape, frame, external appearance, or organization of a thing.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Belonging to the constitution of a thing, as distinguished from the matter composing it; having the power of making a thing what it is; constituent; essential; pertaining to or depending on the forms, so called, of the human intellect.
Of [the sounds represented by] letters, the material part is breath and voice; the formal is constituted by the motion and figure of the organs of speech.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Done in due form, or with solemnity; according to regular method; not incidental, sudden or irregular; express; as, he gave his formal consent.
His obscure funeral . . . No noble rite nor formal ostentation.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Devoted to, or done in accordance with, forms or rules; punctilious; regular; orderly; methodical; of a prescribed form; exact; prim; stiff; ceremonious; as, a man formal in his dress, his gait, his conversation.
A cold-looking, formal garden, cut into angles and rhomboids.
She took off the formal cap that confined her hair.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Having the form or appearance without the substance or essence; external; as, formal duty; formal worship; formal courtesy, etc.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Dependent in form; conventional.
Still in constraint your suffering sex remains,Or bound in formal or in real chains.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Sound; normal.
To make of him a formal man again.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Being in accord with established forms and conventions and requirements (as e.g. of formal dress);
Pay one's formal respects
Formal dress
A formal ball
The requirement was only formal and often ignored
A formal education
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Characteristic of or befitting a person in authority;
Formal duties
An official banquet
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

(of spoken and written language) adhering to traditional standards of correctness and without casual, contracted, and colloquial forms;
The paper was written in formal English
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Represented in simplified or symbolic form
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Logically deductive;
Formal proof
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Refined or imposing in manner or appearance; befitting a royal court;
A courtly gentleman
Fiza Rafique
Sep 26, 2023

Formal

Formal behavior reflects respect and seriousness.
He maintained a formal demeanor at the job interview.
Fiza Rafique
Sep 27, 2023

Common Curiosities

What does "formal" mean?

"Formal" relates to official, structured, or ceremonial aspects.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

What distinguishes formal attire?

Formal attire is typically worn for special events and adheres to established dress codes.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

How is formal language different from informal language?

Formal language follows strict grammar and vocabulary standards and is used in official or professional settings.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Can you provide examples of formal occasions?

Weddings, business meetings, and award ceremonies are examples of formal occasions.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Why is formality important in some situations?

Formality is important for showing respect, adhering to traditions, and maintaining decorum in specific contexts.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Can you give an example of the use of "former" in time references?

"My former residence was in the city, but now I live in the countryside."
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Are there instances where "former" is used to distinguish between two people?

Yes, "former" can be used to differentiate between two individuals with the same name or role.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

How is "former" used in the context of employment?

"Former" is used to describe individuals who held a previous position or job.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

What does "former" mean?

"Former" refers to something or someone from the past or a previous state.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

What is the significance of identifying something as "former"?

Identifying something as "former" helps establish a chronological or positional distinction between the past and the present.
Fiza Rafique
Oct 03, 2023

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger
Link
Previous Comparison
Nursery vs. Pre-nursery

Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at AskDifference.com, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

Popular Comparisons

Featured Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms