Elder vs Older

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What’s the difference between them?

Elder

Meaning:

an older person, especially one who is in authority or holds a position of respect.

Examples:

1) My elder sister is very wise and experienced.

2) His elder brother served in the military for five years.

3) The elders of our tribe passed down their traditions to future generations.

Older

Meaning:

advanced in age; used both with people and things.

Examples:

1. My older brother graduated college last year.

2. I'm looking for a job more suitable for someone older than I.

3. My older cat sleeps more than my younger one.

Learn similar and opposite words to spot the difference

Synonyms

Antonyms

Elder

1. Senior

2. Mature

3. Aged

1. Infant

2. Juvenile

3. Minor

4. Inexperienced

5. Newborn

Older

1. Elder

2. Experienced

3. Mature

4. Long-standing

5. Senior

1. Younger

2. Newer

3. Infant

4. Juvenile

5. Fresh off the press

Tricks for mastery

Useful tips to understand the difference between confusing words "Elder", "Older".

1. Remember that ‘elder’ is used to refer to a person who is of advanced age and also in a position of respect or authority, while ‘older’ is used to refer to anyone or anything that is of advanced age.

2. To help remember the distinction, consider using the mnemonic phrase 'elder is for people'.

3. When referring to a person, remember to use ‘elder’ if they are in a position of authority, and ‘older’ if they are simply of advanced age.

4. When referring to a thing, only use ‘older’.

Check the full list of commonly confused words in English

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Frequently asked questions

In what situations should the first word 'elder' be used?

Elder should be used when referring to an older person, in particular one who is in a position of authority or respect. It is also often used to describe a family member.

When is the appropriate context for using the second word 'older'?

Older is typically used to describe people, animals, or objects that have progressed in age. It is also used to compare two people or things of different ages.

Do the two words share the same pronunciation?

No, the two words do not have the same pronunciation. Elder is pronounced with a long 'e' sound (eɪldə), while older is pronounced with a short 'o' sound (oʊldə).

What are some common mistakes people make when using these words?

One common mistake is thinking that elder can only be used when referring to a person, when it can also refer to a family member. Another common mistake is confusing the two words and using them interchangeably when their meanings are actually quite distinct.

Fill in the gaps to check yourself

1. I was surprised when the _______ child in my class was able to answer the teachers question.

2. The _______ woman had wisdom beyond her years.

3. All the _______ people in the room were invited to speak.

4. This tree is _______ than the one next to it.

5. The _______ members of the team were given extra responsibilities.

6. His _______ sister was an expert on the topic.

1. I was surprised when the older child in my class was able to answer the teachers question.

Explanation: The word older is used in this sentence because it is referring to the age difference between the child and other children in the same class.

2. The elder woman had wisdom beyond her years.

Explanation: The word elder is used in this sentence because it is referring to the womans age and wisdom that is associated with older age.

3. All the elder people in the room were invited to speak.

Explanation: The word elder is used in this sentence because it is referring to the age of the people in the room and the respect that the speaker has for them.

4. This tree is older than the one next to it.

Explanation: The word older is used in this sentence because it is referring to the age difference between the two trees.

5. The elder members of the team were given extra responsibilities.

Explanation: The word elder is used in this sentence because it is referring to the age of the members of the team and the additional responsibilities that their age may bring.

6. His older sister was an expert on the topic.

Explanation: The word older is used in this sentence because it is referring to the age difference between the speaker and his sister, and the expertise that the sister may have due to her age.

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List of Commonly Confused Words

Finding your way around the English language can be hard, especially since there are so many confusing words and rules. So, a list of the most confusing words in English is an extremely useful tool for improving language accuracy and sharing the ideas clearly.