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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > Superlatives and Comparatives    

Superlatives and Comparatives



mariaelaine
Malta

Superlatives and Comparatives
 
Hi Everyone,

Could anyone be so kind as to explain the difference between older/oldest and elder/eldest?  Thanks so much in advance.

3 Nov 2014      



s.lefevre
Brazil

Have a look here
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/pt/gramatica/gramatica-britanica/elder-eldest-or-older-oldest

3 Nov 2014     



isa2
Austria

attributive use for family members only: e.g. my elder brother/ her eldest aunt
BUT: my brother is 5 years older (predicative use)

for other cases: use OLDER/ OLDEST: e.g. He is my oldest friend.

3 Nov 2014     



redcamarocruiser
United States

My oldest friend means the friend I have known the longest.
My eldest friend means the friend who is the most aged or older than all my other friends.


That said, many people no longer make the distinction between oldest and eldest, using oldest for everything. Then we have to rely on context to know whether they are talking about their first friend or their most aged friend.

3 Nov 2014     



isa2
Austria

Sorry, redcamarocruiser, but it īs only one person īs opinion on a forum that you refer to.
What you say may well be common colloquial usage, but in teaching I think we should rely on grammar rules first before relying on current variations, don īt you think so?
(Sorry for being a GRAMMASAURUS Wink)

3 Nov 2014     



yanogator
United States

Much of what is taught as grammar "rules" is just what the common usage was at the time they were written down. English is a constantly changing language, and it is important for the students to be able to communicate effectively. I īm sure that I haven īt heard the word "eldest" used in over 30 years.

Bruce

3 Nov 2014     



Manuhk
Hong Kong

I agree with Bruce, we īve been splitting infinitives since Star Trek  after all Wink

3 Nov 2014     



mariaelaine
Malta

Thanks all.

4 Nov 2014     



douglas
United States

I īm with Bruce on this one. For example, I don īt generally teach "whom" either, but I do warn them that some teachers are still "in the dark ages" about it.
 
What thinketh thee, Milord/Milady Smile

4 Nov 2014     



FrauSue
France

I would use elder/eldest for family members. To me, it doesn īt sound dated (formal, yes, but not dated). In all other situations, use older/oldest.

Elder as a noun can mean "an older, wiser person" (e.g. a church elder) or a kind of tree and the wood from it (e.g. the elder wand in Harry Potter).

4 Nov 2014     



isa2
Austria

We should not negect that language is not only spoken but also written (literature /business/ science etc.)
So we should not only bow to what is common usage at the moment but teach a language according to its set of rules. It īs not for the teacher to decide what is right or wrong: let īs grammarians do their jobs. SS will more than willingly pick up non-standard forms in due course, I am sure.
(The old fossil Wink)

4 Nov 2014     

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