Old x Former x Ancient - Como usar?

Avatar do usuário Junior Lucas 140 3
Hello english experts, How's it going?
I'd like to know How to use these three words, what's the diference among them, for "antigo(a)" in portuguese, for example, I could say:

the former Soviet Union or the old Soviet Union and even, the ancient Soviet Union

Could someone help? I appreciate your answers, thanks!
Avatar do usuário PPAULO 36490 4 32 643
Long story short?
former Soviet Unior - Ex- União Soviética.

Old Soviet Unior - Old, pode significar "antigo, velho, anterior." Aqui pode-se dizer a antiga União Soviética (teria também o mesmo sentido de ex-União Soviética, dados os fatos históricos.)

Ancient - Significa "antigo/velho/secular" Aqui poderia ser antiga União Soviética, mas em outros contextos pode significar antigo no sentido de secular, como em "ancient societies, for example: China, Japan and Soviet Unior (USSR).
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Ok, this one is quite tricky.

I've seen several times the word "old" placed so that it denotes the same as "former", or close so. But it'd never raised my eyebrows before, I've never had a thought about it, actually. Out of a quick research about it, I came to the conclusion that these two words can be considered synonyms, but it's important to point out that "former" is the option you'd pick up mostly in order to sound formal.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, "old" is difined as "having lived or existed for many years". As you can see, this short definition (far be it from me to judge it!) indicates only a relative age of something (or someone), making it clear that the element qualified by the adjective HAS BEEN existing for a long time since its conception. Notice, however, that this defitinion doesn't imply the inexistence of the element at the moment. It has been being for a long time, but it still is!

As for "former", the definition is as follows: "of or in an earlier time; before the present time or in the past". Whatever it was, it clearly doesn't exist anymore. It's in the past and I can't even estimate the extent of the interval when this existed back in the past.

Check this sentence, so that you can identify the definitions above: "my old wife" (no,too rude, huh?), never mind. "My old house" could mean that my house is old or that I'm talking about the house I used to live in or that I owned. I could never say "this is former" as "former" is a classifying adjective and thefore it may be placed before a noun only. So, "former" means "ex".

I wouldn't worry about ancient, this is defined as very, very old, as in "ancient civilisations".

I've listed these words according to their very main meanings. Things can get a lot different sometimes...
Avatar do usuário Junior Lucas 140 3
Thank you guys very much, It's clearer to me now