Difference Between Elder and Older

Elder vs Older
 

Though there exists a difference between elder and older people tend to use them as synonyms. As a result of using older and elder as synonyms, there is a certain confusion in their usage. As a matter of fact, both the words, older and elder are used as comparatives. In other words, both older and elder is used to compare the seniority by age of two people. If you look at the two words, you will see that in a comparative sense both older and elder are adjectives. However, elder is also used as a noun. Moreover, the word elder comes from the Old English words ieldra, eldra while the word older comes from the Old English word ald.

What does Elder mean?

It is interesting to note that elder and eldest are often used before the words brother, sister, son, daughter, grandson and granddaughter. Observe the two sentences given below.

My elder brother is in the States.

My elder grandson is in college.

In both the sentences given above, you can see that the word elder is used with the two nouns, brother and grandson respectively conveying the comparative idea. It suggests that one person has only two brothers and the other person has only two grandsons respectively.

An interesting point to note about the word elder is that, it is the form we used in writing, especially in formal writing, when we are speaking about a person older than someone else.

What does Older mean?

The only main difference between the two usages older and elder is that the word older is a bit more informal than the word elder. Look at the following examples.

My older brother is in the States.

My older grandson is in college.

In both of the sentences given above, the word older just like word elder gives the meaning of someone older than the speaker. However, this word older is accompanied when we are speaking. As mentioned above, older is more colloquial. Sometimes the word older is used in the sense of ‘advanced by age’ and hence gives a suggested meaning as in the sentence given below.

My older sister lives in England.

In this sentence, you get the idea that the sister is advanced in age and is no longer young in age. Of course, this is a special usage of the word older. Otherwise, it is used only as a substitute for the word elder.

Difference Between Elder and Older

What is the difference between Elder and Older?

• The only main difference between the two usages older and elder is that the word older is bit more informal than the word elder.

• The word elder is the form we used in writing, especially in formal writing, when we are speaking about a person older than someone else.

• Sometimes the word older is used in the sense of ‘advanced by age.’

The user of the English language often considers these two words as interchangeable. These are the differences between the two words, elder and older used in the English language.

Images Courtesy:

  1. Older and Younger Brother by Muxxic (CC BY-SA 3.0)