Denmark’s is the oldest national flag.

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Senior Member
I encountered the following sentences in an exercise concerning the use of the superlative (Source: Total English Elementary by Mark Foley and Diane Hall):
“William Shakespeare is the most translated British writer.
The Louvre is the largest museum in the world.
Denmark’s is the oldest national flag.”
:confused: I wonder if the last sentence would sound better if I changed it to:
The flag of Denmark is the oldest national flag.
I googled ‘Denmark’s is the oldest national flag ‘ and I think that I fits better in this context: “Sweden, Israel, Denmark, and the UK flags haven't changed in years. Sweden's is a century old, Denmark's is the oldest national flag in the world, UK was new in 1801, and Israel has never changed their flag - adopted upon independence in 1947.” Source:
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Your change wouldn't sound better, because you're repeating 'flag'. If you want to introduce 'flag' first, you can say:

    Denmark's national flag is the oldest in the world.

    I can see why you're worried. Without prior introduction, the opening word 'Denmark's' prompts the question 'Denmark's what?' But in fact the original sentence is fine. We can hold things in our heads for several words ahead - and we quickly see 'flag'. The original sentence doesn't read oddly: it's quite a normal thing to say, even without mentioning flags before that.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think it is all a question of subtle emphasis; if you are talking about a specific flag, then "the flag of Denmark" e.g. "The flag of France flew from the stern of the ship."

    If you are comparing the attributes of various countries' flags, then "Denmark's flag", as in your good example.

    However, the distinction is probably more apparent than real.
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