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English family vocabulary

A family is a wonderful institution and the ties that exist between the members of a family are stronger than any other relationships. Your family consists of your parents, siblings, wife or husband and children. A typical nuclear family consists of a father, a mother and their children. A joint family which is more or less the norm in a country like India may also consist of oneís uncles, aunts and their children.

Your parents (your mother and father) and your siblings (brothers and sisters) are your closet relatives. Your uncles and aunts are the brothers and sisters of your parents. Your uncleís wife also becomes your aunt. In the same way, your auntís husband becomes your uncle.

If your uncles or aunts have children, they are your first cousins. Note that the word cousin can refer to both men and women. That means you donít have to say cousin brother or cousin sister. Your male child is your son whereas your female child is your daughter. Your brotherís or sisterís son is your nephew. Your brotherís or sisterís daughter is your niece.


When a woman marries, her husbandís family becomes her in-laws. In the same way, when a man marries his wifeís family becomes his in-laws. Your husbandís or wifeís (if you are a man) mother and father are your mother-in-law and father-in-law respectively. Your husbandís brothers are your brothers-in-law. Your husbandís sisters are your sisters-in-law. If you are a woman you are the daughter-in-law of your husbandís family. If you are a man you are the son-in-law of your wifeís parents.

Grandparents / grandchildren

The parents of your parents are your grandparents Ė grandmother and grandfather and you are their grandson or granddaughter. If your grandfather or grandmother has a sister, she is your great-aunt and you are her great-nephew (if you are a man) or great-niece (if you are a woman). If your grandparent has a brother, he is your great-uncle.

The parents of your grandparents are your great-grandfather and great-grandmother and you are their great-grandson or great-granddaughter.

Second families

Sometimes married couples separate, either due to death or due to irreconcilable differences. If your father remarries another woman, she becomes your step-mother. If your mother remarries another man, he becomes your step-father. If your step-father or step-mother already has children, they become your step-brothers and step-sisters. If your mother or father remarries and has children, they become your half-brothers or half-sisters.

Your closest relatives are often referred to as your immediate family. Your extended family includes your entire family.

A blood relative is a person with whom you have a blood relationship. For example, you have blood relationships with your cousins. Relationships formed through marriages arenít blood relationships. For example, you are unlikely to have a blood relationship with your sister-in-law or brother-in-law although it is possible if you marry one of your cousins.

Expressions with family

A meeting of family members is often called a family gathering.

To start a family is to have children.

If a particular characteristic (for example, baldness) is common among family members, it is said to run in the family.

To raise or bring up children is to look after them until they reach adulthood. A family man is a person who likes to spend time with his family.

Sibling rivalry is the somewhat harmless competition and squabbles between brothers and sisters. However, parents must ensure that these fights donít continue into adulthood. If they do, it could lead to family feuds where both sides hate each other.

A son who is no longer on speaking terms with his parents is an estranged son. Sometimes parents disinherit their children. This usually happens due to some irreconcilable differences. A disinherited son or daughter will have no rights to their parentís property.

See Also

See Also



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