Vocabulary Relating to Family for English Learners

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The words below are some of the most important used when talking about Family and Relationships. Each word is categorized and is used in an example sentence to provide context for understanding. 


aunt - My aunt tells me funny stories about my mother's youth.
brother - My brother is very competitive. 
cousin - My cousin left for college last year. 
daughter - She has one daughter and one son. 
father - My father spent a lot of time on the road for work.

grandchild - That 90 year old woman has twenty grandchildren!
granddaughter / son - His granddaughter gave him a birthday card with a bunny.
grandfather / mother - Do you remember your grandmothers and grandfathers?
great-grandchild - She has four great-grandchildren and is very happy to be alive to have met them!
husband - She sometimes argues with her husband, but that's normal in every marriage. 
ex-husband - She had to divorce her ex-husband because he cheated on her. 
in-laws - Many people don't get along with their in-laws. Others are happy to have a new family!
son-in-law, etc. - Her daughter-in-law told her to mind her own business.
mother - Mother knows best, or at least that's my mother always said.
niece - His niece works in a shop in Seattle selling eyewear. 
nephew - I have a nephew who lives in town. It's nice to have lunch every once in a while. 
parents - All of us have two biological parents.

Many grown up with adopted parents.
sister - His sister drove him crazy with her constant complaining about the parents.
son - Many people say that sons are harder to raise than daughters because they cause more trouble. 
step-father - She gets along wither her step-father, but she prefers to not call him 'Dad'.

step-daughter, etc. - If you marry him, you'll have two step-daughters and one step-son. 
twin - It's amazing how similar some twins are. They look, act, and talk alike.
uncle - My uncle lives in Texas. He's nothing like my father. 
widow (woman) - She became a widow twenty years ago and never remarried.
widower (man) - The widower is very sad because he's all alone now.
wife - My wife is the most amazing woman in the world because she puts up with me. 
ex-wife - His ex-wife took all his money. 

Marital Relationships

divorced - Jennifer is divorced, but she's happy to be single again. 
engaged - Helen is engaged to be married next June. She's all caught up making plans. 
married - I've been married for over twenty-five years. I consider myself lucky. 
separated - In many countries, couples must be separated for more than a year in order to divorce. 
single - He's a single man living in New York. Need I say more?!
widowed - Hank became widowed last year. He hasn't been the same since.

Becoming Family

get divorced (from) - My husband and I got divorced three years ago. Now, we're best friends, but we know marriage was a mistake. 
get engaged (to) - I got engaged to my wife after just two months of dating.

get married (to) - We're planning on getting married in May. 
get on (well) with someone - My wife gets on well with my best friend. That makes me happy!
marry someone - She married Tom fifty years ago today. 
start / end a relationship with someone - I think we should end our relationship. We're not happy with each other. 

Other Related Words

acquaintance - I have many acquaintances from all over the world. 
boss - My boss is a nice guy, but he's my boss.
colleague - I have great colleagues at work.
employee - All employees should keep their mouths shut and work hard. 
employer - In today's work environment, employers are unfair to their employees. 
fiancée - My fiancée works as a physical fitness instructor. 
friend - Friends are just as important as family.
best friend - My best friend plays the violin and is a successful entrepreneur.

neighbor - It's important to keep up a friendly relationship with your neighbor if possible. 
partner - Many of those who choose not to get married live with their partners for years. 

To practice this vocabulary, here is a family relationships lesson plan. There's also a dysfunctional family gap fill activity to further your related vocabulary.