Family and friends

Relatives (= members of your family)

These are the most important relatives (also called relations):

Family background (= family history)

My grandfather was a market gardener in Ireland. He grew flowers, fruit and vegetables, and sold them in the market every day. He worked hard all his life, and when he died, his son (now my uncle) and daughter (my mother) inherited a large house and garden (= received this house and garden from my grandfather when he died). They carried on the business together until my mother met my father. They got married, moved to England, and I was born two years later. They didn’t have any more children, so I am an only child.

Family names

When you are born, your family gives you a first name, e.g. James, Kate, Sarah and Alex arc common first names in Britain. Your family name (also called your surname) is the one that all the family share e.g. Smith, Brown, Jones, and O’Neill are common surnames in Britain. Some parents give their children a middle name (like a first name), but you do not usually say this name. Your full name is all the names you have, e.g. Sarah Jane Smith.

Changing times

Society changes and so do families. In some places, people may decide to live together but do not get married. They are not husband and wife, but call each other their partner. There are also many families in some parts of the world where the child or children live(s) with just their mother or father; these are sometimes called single-parent families.


We can use a number of adjectives before friend:
an old friend (= someone you have known for a long time)
a close friend (= a good friend; someone you like and trust)
your best friend (= the one friend you feel closest to)

We use the word colleagues to describe the people we work with.


We use this for a husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend we had in the past but do not have now:
The children stay with my ex-husband at the weekend.
I saw an ex-girlfriend of mine at the disco last night.