When it comes to best Spoken English classes in Bangalore as well as Chennai and Coimbatore, Sahasriya leads the way with over 2500 successful students thus far. In Bengaluru or Chennai-Velachery and Porur or Coimbatore, the best success rate destination for English courses always ends up at Sahasriya. Thats why Sahasriya provides value to students through its Interesting English series too. Everyday’s note on important aspects of English language is a standing example of narrating experiences of best Spoken English classes in Bangalore and other locations from Sahasriya. Today, it is about ‘Older’ and ‘Elder’.

If you were looking for a word to describe someone who is more advanced in age than someone else, what word would you choose?

Would you pick elder or older? Is someone older or elder than someone else? Or would you settle on a different word entirely?

Well, for those writers stuck picking between elder and older, have no fear.

What is the Difference Between Elder and Older?

Broadly speaking, these two words have the same meanings and can be used interchangeably in most settings. For example,

  • He is my elder brother.
  • He is my older brother.
  • She is the elder of the two.
  • She is the older of the two.

In cases like those above, elder is simply a more formal version of the word older, and when comparing two persons, elder has no implication of advanced age, just more advanced than its comparison.

So, the elder brother in the first example isn’t necessarily old in the sense of the later years of his life; he is just older than his comparison.

When to Use Elder

Spoken English elderWhile these words can broadly be used to mean the same things, there are some circumstances that call for one over the other, depending on the context of your sentence.

Elder can be used to denote relatively old age, and when it does, it adds a component of respect for a person’s position or achievement.

  • He is an elder member of the Supreme Court.
  • Parliamentarian Goyal is an elder statesman, having served over 30 years.
  • The elder officer was honored by his younger counterparts.

As you can see, elder, in all of the above cases, signals a level of respect that is not signaled when using older.

And, of course, you cannot forget the age-old saying, “Respect your elders.”

Elder, Eldest Refer to People, Not Objects

Spoken English Elder EldestThe two words elder and eldest are used only when referring to people. They are not used when writing about animals or inanimate objects, such as clothing, furniture, etc.

The adjective elderly, however, is sometimes applied to other living things and, on rare occasions, to inanimate objects.

  • An elderly cat.
  • An elderly ship.
When to Use Older

Spoken English OlderIf the main point of your sentence is simply to showcase the fact of advanced age, then older is usually a better word choice. For example,

  • The public opinion poll was a survey of older Indians.
  • Older voters tend to show up at the polls more so than younger voters.

Elderly can also be used in such circumstances, although some say this word has acquired a negative connotation and should be substituted with words like senior citizen.

Older can be used to refer to people, animals, objects, etc. There are no restrictions when using older to make comparisons.

Older also has one additional use that does not belong to elder.

  • Jaya is older than Ram.

This type of construction, for whatever reason, is not permitted when using the word elder. For example,

  • Shyam has an elder brother. (Correct)
  • Ram is the elder of the two. (Correct)
  • Ram is elder than Shyam. (Wrong)

Conversely, all of these forms are acceptable when using older.

  • Shyam has an older brother. (Correct)
  • Ram is the older of the two. (Correct)
  • Ram is older than Shyam. (Correct)

Since both words can broadly mean the same thing, you just need to remember the limitations of each word. Here are the main points of the older vs. elder confusion.

Elder adds a level of respect that older does not. Elder also cannot be used when referring to animals or objects.

Older is the better word choice in most situations. It’s used simply to refer to people or things far advanced in years of life.

This daily series is an effort by Sahasriya in providing best Spoken English classes in Bangalore, Chennai and Coimbatore. These vital tips ensures your Spoke English classes in Coimbatore, Bangalore and Chennai is more effective with Sahasriya which is what hundreds of students benefit everyday.

About Govind Desikan

AvatarGovind, a master of English language has taken to sharing his experience on English language and focus specifically on finer inputs on English language, IELTS and PTE exams through his posts here.

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