Prompt: FAMILY

You can pick your friends but for better or for worse you can’t pick your family. Take a look at some questions about your family and families in society.

  1. Who in your family are you most like?
  2. Do you like going to family gatherings? Why or why not?
  3. How often do you see your parents? How about your extended family?
  4. What is the best and worst thing about your family or extended family?
  5. How important are strong family ties to you? Are strong family ties more or less important that close friendships?

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Expressions related to family

Your immediate family includes your mother, father, sister, sisters, brothers, husband, wife, and children. But you might have some questions when it comes to your extended family and some complicated family relations. Let’s look at how to describe those people.


As you know, your parents’ parents are your “grandparents”. English speakers use lots of different names for grandparents, but when they talk about them to other people, they usually just use the words “grandfather” and “grandmother”:

  • Hey, Nana. How are you?
  • I went to see my grandmother this weekend.

You can specify which grandparents you mean by saying whose “side” they are on:

  • My grandmother on my mom’s side lives in the US.

Your grandparents’ parents are your great-grandparents. You might also have great-uncles and great-aunts. These are your parents’ aunts and uncles. You can keep adding “great-” for each generation:

  • My great-great-great-grandfather fought in the Civil War.


In English we usually call someone “aunt” and “uncle” whether they are related by blood or by marriage. In some families, kids also call their parents’ close friends “Aunt” or “Uncle”.

Your cousins are other people who you’re related to. When people talk about “cousins”, they usually mean first cousins. A first cousin is the child of your parents’ brothers or sisters. We also count other distant relatives as cousins. A second cousin is one of your parents’ cousins’ children. and a third cousin is one of your grandparents’ cousins’ children. You can even talk about a “second cousin once removed”, which is a complicated relationship that many English speakers have heard of, but only a few of us understand. Your brothers and sisters are also called your siblings. The son of one of your siblings is your nephew, and the daughter of one of your siblings is your niece.


Your husband or wife’s family are your in-laws. You call members of your spouse’s family “mother-in-law”, “brother-in-law”, and so on. But that usually stops with immediate family. For extended family, you need to explain the relationship more clearly:

  • My wife’s grandmother passed away last week.

You can also call your child’s wife or husband your “daughter-in-law” or “son-in-law”

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