Top Tips for IELTS

Family vocabulary and exercises

Here are some useful words and phrases to discuss your family in IELTS speaking. Although this is an “easy” topic, you do want to make sure that you show a good range of family vocabulary. You should note that these words and examples are mostly useful for speaking and not writing as they include many phrasal verbs.

Types of family


Types of family


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There are a lot of words to describe families – here I give you some of less common ones. In British English, your first cousin is the son/daughter of your uncle/aunt. Relatives is a useful word to describe your extended family. A half-brother/sister is when you share a parent, while a step-brother/sister is when neither parent is in common, for instance when your parent marries someone else who already had children. Your mother/father-in-law is the mother/father of your husband/wife.

Family resemblances

These words are useful for describing things that you may have in common with other members of your family.



Resemble is mostly used to describe physical similarities (look like), while take after can also be used to describe other personal characteristics (you both like reading). If you quarrel or squabble with someone, it is normally a fairly minor disagreement. Sibling rivalry is when brothers and sisters compete with each other.

Family relationships

Here are some of the more common words you may use to describe how you get on with people in your family. They make look simple, but be careful as they are almost all phrasal verbs (verb +preposition) and these can be some of the hardest words to use well in English.

Family relationships

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Some idioms

Here are three common idioms that we use to refer to our families:


flesh Notes

Flesh and blood is usually used to refer to people who are part of your immediate family, although it can be used of more distant relatives as well. Blood is thicker than water is strictly used to show that family relationships come before any other relationship/priority. It is often used to show that you will do something for someone in your family even though you may not get on that well. If you are like two peas in a pod, this means that you are very similar either in appearance or attitude.

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21 Responses to Family vocabulary and exercises

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  14. Anonymous April 30, 2016 at 4:26 am #

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