If I need to ask someone about their birth order, what question is usually used? Let's say I do not ask how many children his family has first.

What is your birth order? or Which child are you in your family?


FTR I'm going to go ahead an give you a useful answer, which I believe is correct.

There is no good phrase for that in English.

Quite simply, it's one of those things in English where we all know there's no good clear phrase for it -- what you normally do is bumbling out something such as "So, like, you have older brothers - sisters I mean - or young or what, were you the oldest, youngest, or in between?" or something like "where do you fit in your family, oldest, youngest or?" ("Fitting in" with your family is confusing as it has other connotations, but you sometimes hear that.)

There's just no good clear way to say it.

Note that the many many many tediously linked answers contain ...... not one good suggestion. Not scientific proof, but a excellent pointer that, in fact, there's no such term here.

It's extremely important to remember that the "no" answer to SWRs is, uhh, very important - and you should remember that.

  • The OP is not asking for a single term, or word, but how to formulate the question. Personally I find the OP's "What is your birth order?" to be quite clear and unambiguous, although slightly off-putting. – Mari-Lou A Jun 16 '15 at 15:12
  • I do like the "Where do you fit in your family?" That sounds very natural. – Mari-Lou A Jun 16 '15 at 15:13
  • Right. It's always a fascinating observation that there are some things in English, for which there is just no good phrase. Very unItalian :) – Fattie Jun 16 '15 at 15:55
  • The other way round, there are many lexical gaps in the Italian language that's why they borrow so much from English, and sometimes when there's no need at all. – Mari-Lou A Jun 16 '15 at 18:26
  • I agree that there's no good phrase in English. Usually, I find that most Asian countries have direct question for this (at least where I've been to). – Narazana Jun 17 '15 at 4:45

I would normally ask "How many older siblings do you have?"

  • 1
    And if he or she is the third eldest of ten children? You'll know the person has two older siblings but nothing else, unless she or he volunteers that information. – Mari-Lou A Jun 16 '15 at 11:38
  • The question is asking about the person's position in the birth order, not about the total number of siblings. – Wesley May Jun 16 '15 at 15:03
  • Wes, you misunderstand ML's point – Fattie Jun 16 '15 at 15:05

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