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It’s important to be able to engage in small talk with other people about a variety of subjects. One subject is talking about families. Here are some words and phrases that can help you:

family history

This is the study of a family, their lineage, records, and other information. It can be represented in a ‘family tree’. Sometimes called ‘genealogy’.

Example: I traced my family history all the way back to the times of Napoleon.

side of the family

Family members related to one member of a couple.

Example: My mother’s side of the family live in Australia, but my father’s side of the family live in Japan.


A person, normally more distant than a grandparent, to whom you are related.

Example: He could trace his ancestors back to James the First.


The mother or father of your grandparents.

Example: My mother’s grandma is my great-grandparent.


A person connected by blood or marriage.

Example: A lot of my time is spent visiting relatives.

related to

Connected by blood or marriage.
To be in the same family.

Example: I just found out that I’m related to my best friend through distant cousins.


To receive qualities / genetics from other members of your family.

Example: Sam has inherited his father’s humour.

take after

Resemble a parent or family member.

Example: The rest of my sisters take after my mother.


Members of family that you are descended from.

Example: His roots are from South America.

extended family

A family that extends further than the ‘nuclear family’ (mother / father / sister / brother) to include grandparents and other relatives.

Example: A lot of my extended family live in the same house, including my uncle Matt, my aunts Marie and Claire, and two of my cousins! We’re one big, happy family.


Match the questions 1-10 to the appropriate answers a-j


Do you know a lot about your family history?


Do you know more about your father’s or mother’s side of the family?


Do you know where your ancestors came from?


Have you ever met your great-grandparents?


How many of your relatives do you know?


Are you related to anyone famous?


Have you inherited any characteristics from your family?


Is there anyone in your family whom you take after?


Would you like to learn more about your roots?


Do any members of your extended family live with you?



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