logo  ELT Concourse for learners of English
Concourse 2

Family relationships

family

Look at this.  It is called a family tree:

family tree 

There are four generations in this family tree.

These things are true:

  1. John married Mary and they have three children:
    1. Two sons: Peter and Fred
    2. One daughter: Anne
  2. Peter is John and Mary's elder son and he married Jane.  They have two sons: David and Bert
    1. David married Julia and they have no children
    2. Bert married Sheila and they have no children
  3. John and Mary's daughter, Anne, married Paul and they have three children:
    1. Two daughters: Jo and Sally
    2. One son: Andrew
  4. Jo, Anne and Paul's eldest child, married Henry and they have two baby daughters: Patsy and Penny
  5. Fred, Sally and Andrew are not married.  They are single.
write Task 1: Now look at the family tree again and complete this table.
family tree
Click on the table when you have six words.

family task

These things are also true:

  1. John is Mary's husband
  2. Mary is Peter, Fred and Anne's mother
  3. John is Peter, Fred and Anne's father
  4. Peter and Fred are brothers
  5. Anne is Peter and Fred's sister
  6. Jane is Peter's wife
  7. Julia is Peter's daughter-in-law
  8. Sheila is Jane's daughter-in-law
  9. Henry is Paul and Anne's son-in-law
  10. Peter is Julia's father-in-law
  11. Jane is Sheila's mother-in-law
  12. Sally is Henry's sister-in-law
  13. Andrew is Henry's brother-in-law
write Task 2: Now look at the family tree again and complete this table.
family tree
Click on the table when you have twelve words.

family task 2

These things are also true:

  1. John is Jo's grandfather
  2. Mary is Andrew's grandmother
  3. Penny is Paul's granddaughter
  4. Bert is John's grandson
  5. David is Mary's grandson
  6. Fred is Jo's uncle
  7. Sally is Penny's aunt
  8. Patsy is Andrew's niece
  9. Andrew is Fred's nephew
  10. Bert and David have three cousins: Jo, Sally and Andrew
  11. Bert and David are Jo, Sally and Andrew's cousins
write Task 3: Now look at the family tree again and complete this table.
family tree
Click on the table when you have ten words.  You must use one word twice.

task 3

That's enough for most families but we can also have:

  • a great grandfather: your grandfather or grandmother's father
  • a great grandmother: your grandfather or grandmother's mother
  • a great aunt: your aunt or uncle's mother
  • a great uncle: your aunt or uncle's father
  • a great niece: your niece or nephew's daughter
  • a great nephew: your niece or nephew's son

languages

Other languages

In some languages, there are different words for many family relationships.  For example:

  • Some languages have a different word for uncle (mother's brother or father's brother).  In English, it is the same for both.
  • Some languages have a different words for aunt (mother's sister or father's sister).  In English it's always aunt.
  • Some languages have different words for grandmother and grandfather (mother's father or mother or father's father or mother).  English uses the same words for both.
  • Many languages have a different word for a female cousin and a male cousin.  English does not; it's always cousin.
  • Some languages have different words for brothers and sisters who are older or younger.  English does not.
  • Some languages have a different words for people in my family and people in other families.  English does not.

English is quite simple.  We only make a difference between sexes:

male Male female Female
(grand)father (grand)mother
husband wife
brother sister
(grand)son (grand)daughter
uncle aunt
nephew niece
cousin

What does your language do?

write Task 5: Now look at all the words for family members in this lesson and translate them into your first language.
Write down and differences between English and your language.
If you know what your language does, it is easier to use the English words correctly.

Try a test to see what you can remember.