former vs. ex

Hello teachers,

what are the differences between former and ex?

Thanks a lot for yuor answer. :smiley:

As they stand, no difference in meaning; ‘former’ is generally more formal-- you wouldn’t have, for instance, ‘The Association of Ex-Students’. How about coming up with some problematic examples? There are probably many cases where they are not interchangeable, like ‘I am a shell of my former self’.

HI Mr. MM,

For example, I say ‘ex-girlfriend’…Is it okay to say ‘former-girlfriend’?


Yes, but don’t hyphenate. ‘Ex-’ is a prefix, but ‘former’ is a word in itself.

Hi Rosalisa,

Just to add a little more on this topic - 'former ’ tends very much to refer to a previous holder of a job/position/occupation rather than referring to personal relationships. ‘Ex’ on the other hand can be used for both formal and informal descriptions. It’s perhaps worth noting than ‘ex’ has now been upgraded to a noun as when people are talking about their ‘ex’, they mean their ‘former’ husband/wife/partner/lover.


Hi teachers,
“Former” can’t go alone, isn’t it?