Difference Between Elder and Older

Elder vs Older

Elder and Older are two words that are often confused when it comes to their usage.  As a matter of fact both the words, elder and older are used as comparatives. 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

1. My elder brother is in the States.

2. My elder grandson is in college.

In both the sentences 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.

The only main difference between the two usages elder and older is that the word ‘older’ is beginning to be accepted as the substitute for the word ‘elder’ and as a matter of fact the usage ‘elder’ is gradually disappearing from the Grammar scene. The recent usages of the word ‘older’ are

1. My older brother is in the States.

2. My older grandson is in college.

Sometimes the word ‘older’ is used in the sense of ‘advanced by age’ and hence gives a suggested meaning as in the sentence ‘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’. The writer in 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.