I remember "oldest" child is more correctly used when you have more than two children - e.g. my older child (assumption that there are only two children); my oldest child (assumption that there are at least three).

I now hear a lot of people saying "my oldest child" when they have only two. Which is the correct grammar?

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    The two issues you describe are unrelated and very different in nature, so I think the second point, although very interesting, deserves its own separate question. it is unclear what you want to know or understand, in your shoes I would specify where you hear this usage and specifically turn it into a proper question.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 11, 2018 at 5:46
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    I am afraid Mari-Lou A is right. Many of us, as we get older, find ourselves lamenting the carelessness or ignorance of younger generations as they ignore rules that our ‘stricter’ teachers drilled into us. The confining of the comparative to certain dualities is one. My pet hate is the ‘careless misuse’ of ‘infer’ to mean ‘imply’. Until I found instances in OED going back to the 18th century! In the first century BCE old men were doing this. Language is not a fixed thing. There might be an interesting question about the first people to ‘violate’ a rule were wrong or ahead of their time.
    – Tuffy
    Oct 11, 2018 at 7:14

2 Answers 2


I would say 'my elder son' as there are only two sons. If there were three or more, l would have said 'the eldest son'.


Yes. It would even be 'correct' if you only had one child, for of the set of one, it is the oldest -- and youngest. Older works for 2 children also (or more), however it would not work for 1 child, in the same way oldest would, as it lacks another member against which to compare.

As for bought/brought, it is correct as brought. "Bought up that way" is illiterate.

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    It may be correct in the sense of being, strictly speaking, true, but is nevertheless likely to be perceived as misleading. In other words, it may be OK so far as the semantics is concerned, but is not OK so far as the pragmatics is concerned.
    – jsw29
    Oct 11, 2018 at 6:07

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