What do the Americans say when a child has not been brought up well:

  1. Their kids haven't had a good upbringing.

  2. Their kids are very badly brought up.

Do the above sentences sound natural? Are they the way you natives say them or you use another phrasing to describe such children?


This kind of statement would be made after the fact (since it is a conclusion), so I wouldn't use present tense. I would say:

1) Their kids didn't have a good upbringing.


2) Their kids were brought up very badly.

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  • 1
    And sometimes "they must have been raised in a barn" – Jim Oct 19 '14 at 2:03
  • 1
    I would say "They didn't raise their children well." unless there was some reason that the children's upbringing wasn't the parent's responsibility. – ColleenV Oct 19 '14 at 2:23
  • A good upbringing turned out to be a collocation! "However good their upbringing, young people may still behave badly" Longman's LDCE – learner Oct 19 '14 at 5:37

I am not a native-speaker, but I have read that Americans can use either the present perfect or the past simple for recent actions. So it's right to say the following:

1- Their kids have not had or didn't have a good upbringing. We can also say that their kids have not been brought up well or were not brought up well.

2- As for the second sentence, there is nothing wrong with it. It's grammatically correct because the phrase "brought up" has been used as an adjective, not as a verb (look up well brought up in CAMBRIDGE DICTIONARY). However, we can also say that their kids were brought up badly or have been brought up badly.

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