Let's say there is a person A and he is the 6th son of his parents, means there are 5 more children of his parents before A. Now suppose you don't know that he is 6th and want to ask someone that question. How do you ask?

  • He is the 6th son of his parents

I made two question forms.

Question form:

  • A is the which son of his parents?
  • Which son of his parents A is?

How do native English speakers say that? Is there a better way to say?

  • I would go around it, by asking "Is he their youngest son", or "Do they have any younger/older sons?" Or "How many sons do they have? Which is he?" Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 12:20
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    This is a frequent question here. The fact is that there is no convenient, unambiguous way to ask this quesdtion. Your second suggestion is the best short way of asking it, and in context may well be understood. A clearer, but more cumberrsome, form is something like "Where does he come in [the order of] their sons?"
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 12:26

1 Answer 1


In some cultures, the order of children is important- for example in Bali, the first child is usually called Wayan, the second Made, the third Nyoman... etc... though they do not distinguish between genders, so Wayan, Made and Komang could be boys or girls.

In the UK, boys and girls are given different names according to gender, but the gender is not considered important when identifying the sequence, and even that is uncommon. We could refer to "the sixth child", but we don't usually do so, and I have never heard anybody referring to "the sixth son". We refer to the first child (regardless of gender) as the eldest and last/most recent as the youngest, but don't really have a special term for the ones in between, unless there is only one (the middle child). As a result, we do not have a standard way of asking your question.

Large families are uncommon in the UK: in 2019, there were only 28,000 households (about 0.1%) with six or more children. In addition, child-numbering is not straightforward, because 16% of children have step-siblings (only one of the adults that they live with is their biological parent), and a significant number of children are adopted (neither of the adults that they live with is their biological parent).

Because of these cultural issues, I would not recommend asking this kind of question about a British child. If the sequence is important in your culture and you want to ask somebody in your culture, in English, you could say

How many older brothers does he have? - if you are only interested in male children
How many older siblings does he have? - if you want both boys and girls included in the count

Please note that "the sixth son" would mean "the sixth male child": if the boy had five older brothers and three older sisters, he would still be the sixth son, but would the the ninth child.

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