Sibling Rivalry

Sibling Rivalry

Jun 19 2019


If you have any brothers or sisters, you probably spent time competing when you were little. It’s likely that you would argue over who got the bigger cookie, or who got to sit in the best seat in the car. It’s not unusual for children to try to outdo each other. It’s all part of growing up.

This doesn’t change for many people once they’re adults. Workers try to one up each other at the office. Athletes work hard to win games or be best in the world. It’s not necessary to have a sibling, either. You can be an only child and enjoy the challenge of doing your best, and the benefit of everyone’s attention.

Did Lily and Rafael experience sibling rivalry? Find out in the following English lesson.


Lily: So, Rafa, I noticed that you got a call from your brother today. What was that about?
Rafael: He just wanted to argue with me about something. He and I are always competing.
Lily: Oh, really?
Rafael: Yeah. Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Lily: No, I’m an only child, so I never really had to deal with that. But I kind of always wanted a sibling of some sort. You know, somebody to share things with. That kind of thing?
Rafael: So, you have no superiority complex? Or no brother insecurity? Anything like that?
Lily: No. I always thought sibling rivalry was kind of a myth. Is it, like…
Rafael: It’s definitely not a myth. Trust me. When my brother calls me, he and I argue all the time. We’re really competitive. He’s always trying to one up me.
Lily: You’re constantly grappling for recognition. That kind of thing?
Rafael: Anything he does, I want to outdo him. Anything I do, he just wants to put it down.
Lily: So, are you the younger brother? The older brother? Or what?
Rafael: I’m the middle child. That’s the worst one to be.
Lily: Because you don’t really get any attention, do you?
Rafael: No. Do only children need lots of attention?
Lily: I think everyone needs attention.


Rafael’s brother called and Lily wants to know why. He says that his brother called to argue like he always does. They grew up competing with each other, and that has never stopped. Rafael doesn’t sound very excited to have heard from him.

Lily can’t understand Rafael’s experience because she grew up as an only child. In fact, she tells him that she has always wondered if siblings really fight and compete as much as they say they do. Rafael tells Lily that it’s absolutely true, at least for him and his brother!

Were you an only child, or did you grow up with brothers or sisters? Did you and your siblings spend time trying to outdo each other?

Grammar Point

Contractions and Abbreviations

Rafael tells Lily, “I’m the middle child.” He uses a contraction.

Sometimes, we shorten or combine words by creating contractions. This is especially common in spoken English.

Usually, to make a contraction, we remove a letter or letters from a word and replace the letter(s) with an apostrophe (‘), as in when we shorten “He is feeling ill” to “He’s feeling ill.”

Some other common contractions include: aren’t for are not, can’t for can not, he’ll for he will, and won’t for will not.

Rafael uses the contraction I’m. This is short for I am.

Which is correct, “He’s come over at 9am,” or, “He’ll come over at 9am”?


  1. Rafael says that his brother called to __.

  2. How does Lily feel about the relationship between Rafael and his brother?

  3. Which does not belong?

  4. Which sentence uses a contraction?

See the full English lesson at English, baby!