Eldest and Oldest both are used to determine seniority in terms of age but the contexts of usage for both are quite different. It is important to know the exact differences in both the terms and their usage.
Eldest vs Oldest
The difference between Eldest and Oldest is that Eldest is used for related people while Oldest can be used for any person, place, or group whether they are related or unrelated.
Both the terms are used as superlative adjectives, as absolute attributes to an individual, a group, or a community. These denote seniority in age and birth order.
- Geeta is the eldest among the eight siblings.
- The eldest lawyer in our firm would retire tomorrow
- The Akkadian Empire is the oldest empire in the world.
Comparison Table Between Eldest and Oldest (in Tabular Form)
|Parameter of Comparison||Eldest||Oldest|
|Definition||Eldest is used to determine the absolute seniority of a person in a group or a community. They have to be related in some way.||Oldest is used to determine the absolute seniority of people or things whether they be related or unrelated.|
|Root Word||The root word of Eldest is Elder, which is itself a comparative adjective.||The root word of Oldest is Old which is a positive adjective.|
|Placement||It is used before a noun. The noun has to represent people.||It is also used before nouns but the noun can be a person or a thing.|
|Usage||It is used as an age attribute for people. It cannot be used for unrelated person or things. It can’t be used for absolutes in the world.||It is an age attribute for people as well as things. It is used for absolutes in the world.|
|Examples||1)She’s the eldest in the family.|
2)Her eldest brother is 77 years old.
|1) Akkadian Empire is the oldest empire discovered till date.|
2) I am the oldest among my cousins.
Who is Eldest?
Eldest most commonly refers to a person who was born the earliest or who is of the greatest age among a group of people. Eldest is usually used when the people of the group in consideration are related in some way, may be a family or a small community.
It is an attribute to denote the seniority of someone and is, therefore, an adjective. It is used to denote the person whose age is the highest among all, hence, it is a superlative adjective.
The root form of Eldest is Elder, which itself is a comparative adjective. Eldest is always used before a noun as it is a detail or a characteristic.
- She’s her eldest sister.
- Ram is the eldest of all the cousins.
- The eldest son of the king would succeed to the throne after the king’s death.
Who is Oldest?
Oldest refers to a person or thing that is older than any other person or thing in that category. It can be used to compare people, things, or ages (like stone age is the oldest age in periodization of history) whether they be related to each other or not.
Eldest can’t be used for absolutes, only oldest can be used in case of absolutes of the world. For example, “She is the oldest lady alive”.
It is a superlative adjective and has its root in ‘old’. It is used to determine the absolute seniority of people or things in a group or community.
It can be used for theories, ideas, formulas, methods, monuments, cities, or infrastructure. For example,
- Mercantilism is the oldest theory of Economics.
- The Arkadiko bridge is the oldest in the world.
- This is the oldest living tiger in India.
Main Differences Between Eldest and Oldest
- Eldest is used to denote seniority among related people while Oldest is used to denote seniority and antiquity among people or things (like kingdoms, infrastructure, monuments, etc.) that may be related or unrelated. Oldest is usually used to determine whether the considered objects were contemporary or ancient, basically to align the ages of various objects.
- Eldest is constructed from the root word ‘Elder’, which itself is a comparative adjective while Oldest is derived from ‘Old’ which is a Positive Adjective.
- Both are used before nouns to describe their age attribute but Eldest is used for only selective nouns that represent people while Oldest can be used for all the nouns (whether it be people or thing)
- Eldest is used for related groups (like families or companies) of people only while Oldest is used for related or unrelated groups of people or things. Only Oldest is used to denote absolute superlatives of an entire country or a world.
- For example, I am the eldest among my siblings. or She’s the oldest lady alive.
Both the words Eldest and Oldest are superlatives adjectives used to denote seniority in terms of life years or age. It is important to note that being superlative adjectives, both are preceded by ‘the’ in sentences.
It is important to clearly understand the distinction in the use of both words to excel in English and achieve proficiency. Correct and crisp knowledge is very important to differentiate and know the correct usage.
Eldest is used to denote seniority among people who are related only while Oldest denotes seniority and antiquity of people or things, whether they are related or unrelated. Eldest is formed out of Elder, which is itself a comparative adjective while oldest is the superlative form derived from Old.
Both of them are used before nouns because they determine the age attributes but Eldest is strictly used for nouns that represent people and Oldest can be used for all the nouns. Eldest is used when the considered people are related like families, members of a company, etc.
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