Talking about family is a helpful way to practise English. It is an easy topic to talk about, as it is familiar. There are many words that are used to describe a family, as well as questions that are usually asked. Here are some of the common phrases and terms that are used.

Related by marriage means that two people are family only because of a marriage. The people are not related by blood, which is the opposite of related by marriage.

A relative refers to anyone who is related to someone- connected by blood or marriage. It means to share the same mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandfather or grandmother, among others.

Siblings is the collective term for brothers and/or sisters. If someone asks ‘do you have any siblings?’ they are asking if you have any brothers or sisters.

If a person has no siblings, then they are an only child. If someone asks ‘do you have any siblings?’ and you don’t, you can say: ‘No, I am an only child’.

A spouse refers to a partner in marriage. A husband (male) or wife (female) can be a spouse. For example: ‘this is Jane. She is my spouse’.  In that example, one can also say: ‘This is Jane. She is my wife’.

Parents is the collective term for mother and father. Other words for mother are ‘mom’, ‘mommy’ and ‘ma’, and for father are ‘dad’, ‘daddy’ and ‘pa’. These are common terms that are used in less formal situations, and are usually dependent on a person’s home language.

An orphan is a person who has no parents.

A person’s immediate family refers to their siblings and parents. Another term that is sometimes used is nuclear family however immediate is much more common.

A person’s extended family can include siblings, parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. It refers to anyone who is related to a person.

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