Do You Have a “Youngest Child”?

(big, bigger, and biggest, & also small, smaller, and smallest cups!)

 

 

I do.  And you might.  But– let me tell you something– a whole lot of people who refer to their “youngest”?  Don’t have one.

 

A week ago, I asked my Facebook crowd, “What do you think of when I say the words ‘comparative’ and ‘superlative’?”  Smart cookies that they are, my buddies there came back with things like, “grammar”, “adjectives”, and “-er, -est”.  Good answers.

 

Comparative and superlative are forms of adjectives you use to describe things you are comparing.  Makes sense, right?  So, if you have two cups of differing sizes, you could say that one is biggER than the other.  Comparative adjectives help us to distinguish and that’s really helpful.  That “er” form is exactly what you need when there are two of something.  What you don’t need?  An “est”, or, the superlative form.  If you have two cups, you don’t say “that one’s the biggest.”  You need three (or more) cups to make that sentence work.

 

And so it is with children.

 

If you have two children?  You have an older and a younger child.  That’s it.  No oldest.  No youngest.  In my case?  I have an oldest child (he’s six) and a youngest (she’s two) and one in between (she’s five).  However, I have an older daughter and a younger daughter.  No “oldest daughter.”  I’d need another girl to make that phrase appropriate.  Does that make sense?

 

People seem to do pretty well at using the correct type of comparative adjective in most cases, I do believe.  It’s not one of those grammatical things that is constantly grating on my nerves.  But, for whatever reason, when it comes to children?  All bets are off.  I am forever reading descriptions about “my youngest child” when I know full well there are two kids in that family.  Or someone will ask me about my oldest daughter and I have to bite my tongue.

 

So, I’m doing what I always seem to do when something irritates me to no end, but I don’t want to put someone on the spot–  I’m writing about it here.  And I’m wondering…

 

Have you ever noticed someone using the superlative when the comparative would have been correct?  Oh, and also, do you have a youngest child? ;)

 

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9 comments to Do You Have a “Youngest Child”?

  • Becca

    I have three children, but I don’t think of myself as having a “youngest” because the second and third children are twins. But I’m pregnant with my fourth now, so I guess I’ll have an oldest, two middles, and a youngest.

  • Trisha

    I have 3 boys, so I do use the word “youngest.” But I probably shouldn’t because my…erm…oldest is a twin. He is technically the oldest of the 3, by 2 minutes over his twin brother, but hearing you describe the difference between the 2, I probably should be using “older” and “younger,” right?

    • I think “oldest” is still appropriate in your case, Trisha! I suppose you could say, “My older children are twins,” but that honestly feels kind of awkward. Twins probably deserve special rules. :) No matter how you slice it, though, I would definitely refer to your third son as the youngest.

  • Trisha

    That’s how I typically refer to him. I don’t usually refer to either of the twins as the oldest, unless someone asks which of them is older. We treat them both as the oldest :-)

  • When you asked the original question I thought the correct answer, but I can honestly say it has never even occurred to me when talking about my boys or listening to other people. I have no idea what I say!! I bet I say -est inappropriately. Sorry if I have plucked your nerves! :)

    • I’ve not noticed you using it incorrectly, Heather, so you’ve definitely never plucked my nerves. It’s totally not a huge deal anyway… just one of those silly things I always seem to notice.

  • I’m honestly always a little scared when I hit publish on my blog because my grammar isn’t always “correct”. I always hope that my heart is more important than the grammatical errors ;). Maybe it’s because I’ve forgotten so much from high school …?! LOL :).

    • I have never been one bit bothered by your grammar, my friend! And, to be truthful, I read a couple of blogs that use abysmal grammar and I find it easy to overlook because the genuine love and beauty there is so much more important! Have majored in English Literature and being the daughter of a former English teacher, however, I simply cannot help but have a few pet peeves. ;)

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