family vocabulary ielts

The topic of family is very common in everyday life and is highly likely to appear on some part of the IELTS speaking test. Therefore, it is crucial for you to have a good grasp of family vocabulary because you could be asked to speak about family members you admire or about your relationships with different family members.

1. Family Members and types of Family Vocabulary

  • Family Members and types of Family Vocabulary – Below is a list of the most common words used to describe family members and the different types of family. There is an activity for you to practice using the words in context.
  • Ancestors – Family members from previous generations
  • Auntie – The sister of your mother or father/ The wife of your mother or father’s brother
  • Blood relative – Someone you are connected to by birth rather than marriage
  • Brother – A male born to the same parents as you
  • Cousin – The children of your aunties and uncles
  • Descendants – A person who is related to you and lives after you, such as your children
  • Distant relative – A relative who you do not have much contact with and who is not closely related to you
  • Dysfunctional family – A family with conflict or problems amongst the members
  • Extended family – The part of the family that includes cousins, grandparents, aunties, and uncles
  • Grandchildren – Collective name for the children of your children
  • Grandmother/Grandfather – The mother/father of your parents
  • Grandparents – The collective name for the mother/father of your parents
  • Grandson/Granddaughter – The son/daughter of your children
  • Half-brother/Half-sister – A brother or sister that shares only one parent in common with you
  • Immediate family – Your close family members such as children, spouse, parents
  • In-laws – (mother-in-law, brother-in-law etc…) – The family of your husband or wife
  • Next-of-kin – The person you are most closely related to. Often used as an emergency contact or for inheritance
  • Nuclear family – Parents and children
  • Parents – Collective name for mother and father
  • Only child – A child with no brothers or sisters
  • Relative – A person in the same family as you
  • Sibling – A brother or sister
  • Son – A male child
  • Daughter – A female child
  • Offspring – Children
  • Sister – A female from the same parents as you
  • Step – With regards to families, the word ‘step’ means that you are related to the person because your mother or father married a different person. The people in that person’s family then become your ‘step family’. For example, step-mother, step-brother, step-sister etc.
  • Twins – Two babies born at the same time
  • Uncle – The brother of your mother or father/ The husband of your mother or father’s sister

2. Activity 1 – Family Members and types of Family Activity

Activity 1

Exercise 1 – Choose the correct word to complete the sample IELTS questionsDo you think people are more influenced by their friends or family?

I think that in early life people are more influenced by their _______1_________ because that is who they spend the most time with at that age. I also believe that if the family is _______2_______ it can affect children negatively when there is fighting and arguing all the time. However, I think teenagers spend less and less time with their ______3________ and their _____4_______ as they grow older because they start to spend more time with their friends, who then become a bigger influence on their personality than their immediate family.

How do the roles of elderly people vary in different countries?

I think that there are big differences in the roles of elderly people according to the development of the particular society. In my countries,especially in the developing world, elderly people are looked after by their______5______ or ______6_________ after they retire rather than living alone. This is often because elderly people rely on the financial assistance provided by their ___7_______. However, in many developed counties I think people value their ____8__________ less and it is common for them to live alone.

  1. immediate family
  2. dysfunctional
  3. parents
  4. siblings
  5. children
  6. grandchildren
  7. descendants
  8. parents

3. General Vocabulary, Phrasal Verbs, and Family Idioms

General Vocabulary, Phrasal Verbs, and Family Idioms – There are many idioms and phrasal verbs used to discuss different aspects of a family, such as relationships. The following are some common words, phrasal verbs and idioms related to the topic of family. There is an exercise with some real IELTS questions for you to practice using the words and phrases in context.

  • Adopt – To legally agree to permanently look after someone else’s child
  • Black sheep of the family – A member of the family considered bad or rebellious in some way
  • Breadwinner – The person who earns money to support a family
  • Fall out with – To have an argument or disagreement with someone
  • Family man – A man who is highly dedicated to his family
  • Own flesh and blood – Emphasising that you are referring to a member of your family.
  • Blood is thicker than water – Family relationships are the most important
  • Foster – To legally agree to temporarily look after someone else’s child
  • Get on well/badly with – Have a good/bad relationship with someone
  • Get round someone – To persuade someone. Often a child ‘gets round’ their parents
  • Give a telling off – To discipline someone. Usually, parents tell off their children.
  • Hereditary – Something that is passed from one generation to the next
  • Look alike – To have a similar appearance to someone
  • Look up to – To admire
  • Look after – To take care of
  • Named after – To be given a name because of someone else in your family
  • Older generation – A group of people not classed as young. Generally, they have children/grandchildren.
  • Run in the family – When traits are shared amongst family members.
  • Sibling rivalry – Fighting or conflict between brothers and sisters
  • Single-parent – A parent raising a child by themselves
  • Take after someone – Something you inherit from an older family member
  • To raise/bring up a child/children – To take care of children from childhood to adulthood
  • To support a family – To provide food and resources for a family to survive
  • Upbringing – The way that a person was raised from childhood to adulthood
  • Wears the trousers – The person who is in control
  • Widow / Widower – A woman/man whose husband/wife has died
  • Younger generation – A group of people not considered old. Generally young people, students and young adults

4. Activity 2 – General Vocabulary, Phrasal Verbs, and Family Idioms Exercise

Activity 2

Activity 2 –General Vocabulary, Phrasal Verbs, and Family Idioms – Choose the correct option to complete the answers to the IELTS questions.Would you like to see more of your family?

Yes I would like to see more of more family, especially my ______1_________ like my cousins, who I _____2________ with. We have always had a good relationship but we don’t see each other often. I was also _____3_______ in a ________4__________ because my _____5______ divorced when I was younger. My father lives quite far away but I would like to see him more often because I really ____6______ to him.

Should people rely on their families or be more independent?

I think that it is better for people to become independent as soon as possible. I _____7_____ my mother in that respect because she has always been independent ever since she became a ______8______ after my father died. That meant that she had to become the main _______9________ in the house and she ______10________ me and my ____11__________ all by herself. I will never abandon my family because as they say, _________12__________, but I don’t want to pressure my mother by depending on her to ____13________ me now I am old enough to work.

  1. extended family
  2. get on well
  3. brought up
  4. single-parent family
  5. parents
  6. look up to
  7. take after
  8. widow
  9. breadwinner
  10. brought up
  11. siblings
  12. blood is thicker than water
  13. support

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